Do we think of ourselves as dangerous? We are nice, Christian people … but many in society around us, politicians and the media in particular, seem to think it is dangerous to hold a strong view because of religious convictions.
Sometimes it is because religion seems to be the cause of so much violent conflict. Islamic extremists are the most obvious examples at the moment. When warring factions use religious badges, or religious prejudices, to build up support and demonise the enemy, it is hardly surprising that those caught in the crossfire should despair of religion.
Nearer home, there is a strong agenda among political leaders to promote gay marriage but gender fluidity. It has been unlawful for a long time to discriminate between male and female, but it is now illegal to discriminate on the basis of a wish to change gender. School teachers are now being coerced into treating boys as girls (and vice versa) if they choose to identify themselves as such. Some around us might regard us with suspicion, as religious extremists, for holding to a traditional view of gender and marriage because we are convinced that it is God’s best for people. To have our ethics determined by prayer and carefully considering scripture and our theology - rather than determined by the prevailing view of shapers of culture around us - is increasingly seen as dangerous.
The Guardian newspaper recently reported: “Christianity is deemed dangerous and offensive, according to Tim Farron, who quit as leader of the Liberal Democrats in July saying it was impossible to be both faithful to the bible and a political leader.
In a speech … Farron will say: ‘If you actively hold a faith that is more than an expression of cultural identity … you are deemed to be far worse than eccentric. You are dangerous. You are offensive.’ Farron, an evangelical Christian, stood down as Lib Dem leader after two years following repeated occasions when he had been asked whether he considered gay sex to be a sin.”
We are dangerous people, because we challenge the norms in society around us.
It has always been that way, although some of the issues might have been different in earlier ages. The Salvation Army in the later 19th Century challenged the right of employers to exploit vulnerable employees (mostly women and children). Many Evangelicals in the later 18th Century challenged the right of slave owners to buy and sell humans for profit. We could make a long list of such issues of morality and ethics on which Christians (and some others) have challenged society throughout the last 2,000 years. In New Testament times it was purity in sexual ethics and refusing to take part in venerating idols that marked Christians as “dangerous” (and even as “atheist”!).
In all times since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension and the coming of the Spirit, we live as people with a new life source - the New Covenant is about a new heart and God Himself living in believers (Jer 31:33-34). So we do not quite fit with society around. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3.20), however much we want to bless those around us and seek the good of the city (Jer 29.7). That does not mean we can be ‘wierd’ for silly reasons, nor violent or rude, but it does mean we fear God not people.
That can make us difficult to control ... even dangerous!