Since the last edition of Premier Christianity, the UK has been rocked by two major terror attacks – 22 killed by a suicide bomber at the Manchester Arena and then, less than two weeks later, the London Bridge attack which left eight people dead, as well as the three Islamic extremists shot by police. Then, shortly before going to press, a further tragedy – an entire block of flats engulfed by flames in London with the number of fatalities still to be confirmed (News Analysis, p8 and News, p12).
All of these disturbing and unsettling events have taken place alongside a bitterly fought general election which has backfired spectacularly on the person who called it, Prime Minister Theresa May. MPs have come and gone, leaders are resigning (see News, p12, for Tim Farron’s extraordinary statement), and the future of Britain’s Brexit negotiations seems to be hanging in the balance.
When people in ancient China wanted to curse someone they would say: “May you live in interesting times.” We live in interesting, uncertain and often tragic times. But we are not cursed. I believe we are living in the painful “groaning of creation” that precedes the rebirth of all things anticipated by Paul in Romans 8. And God is calling the Church to show where sure hope lies in uncertain times.
We need to return to prayer, to action and to scripture. Glenn Paauw’s immensely helpful article on p28 is a road map for re-engaging with the Bible, which continues to be our primary source of revelation of the one who is the ultimate rock in an unstable world – Jesus Christ.
It wasn’t an archbishop, evangelist or church leader who has made this most clear in a public setting in recent weeks. It was a 23-year-old pop star, Justin Bieber, who boldly addressed the millions watching the Manchester benefit gig at Old Trafford, saying, “God is good is the midst of the evil. God is good in the midst of the darkness. He loves you.”
In saying this Bieber underlined the fact that if we truly believe that “love overcomes hate” (a phrase that has been uttered frequently by our politicians and community leaders), we need to hold fast to the one who is the perfect source of love, which drives out fear.