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Rambling Rector

June 2023

From the Rambling Rector  

Religion a force for good 

The government recently published a report titled ‘Does government ‘do God’?’ 
It found that most responders to its call for evidence (84 per cent) saw faith and religion as “overall positive things” for society. One respondent said: “Faith is oxygen to many of us.” Yet 58 per cent of responders also agreed that freedom of religion or belief was under threat in the UK. This view was particularly strong among Christians (68 per cent), who cited high-profile cases of Christians being penalised for being open about their faith in public and at work. 

The report says that the Government should embrace the work that faith groups do within the community, while understanding, as one respondent put it, that this is “merely an overflow from the core of their identity, not their actual identity”. Greater engagement is needed from the Government to foster positive understanding while not “shying away” from tackling harmful practices. 

This extract from the government report has been taken from the Church Times. On many occasions I have thought that people of faith do not get the recognition for all the good that they do in society. Christianity (the branch of faith that I represent and promote) is a force for good in the UK, and Christians can be proud to say that we are followers of Jesus Christ. Not everybody who does good has a faith, but it has been documented that people of faith are more likely to do good in society that those who do not. It is right to acknowledge, and the report did, that there is a disparity between real people of faith and those that use faith for their own personal greed, ambition, and pride of what the author of the report calls “make-believers”. This applies to all faiths and is a frequent means of negating a faith that is different to your own, or even negating all faith. Religious extremists are often in the news. I remember several years ago somebody saying to me that x has been caught fiddling his tax return, and he goes to church. This does not mean that all Christians are tax avoiders! Or that tax avoidance is OK, but does highlight that Christians are also people, who are not perfect. Locally a lot of people do a lot of voluntary work in all of our villages and this helps bind all our communities together, and I thank you for all that you do. 

This raises the question  about the difference between a genuine believer in a faith and what the author of that report calls a ‘make-believer’? I suspect we all would have a different answer to that one, although I would tend to agree with the statement above, the make-believer, or false believer is somebody who is using faith for their own personal advancement. In fact the bible says that Christians will be known for their love, one for another and it also says that that the Christian will be known for their ‘works’. The book of James in the bible says that faith without works is dead. In other words you cannot believe in God without doing good deeds. 

I suspect (and this is just my opinion) that faith, a belief in God, a higher power, the creator of heaven and earth is a way of acknowledging that the ‘other’ is more important than a human being and helps us all keep self in perspective. This is where going to church, to pray, sing praises to God and meet with other people who share the same belief is very important to the individual. A few years ago two scientific reports were released stating that people of faith on average lived a little longer than those who did not. I recently received an email from a couple that got married last year that said how much they were surprised that they missed coming to the services in our churches now that they are living elsewhere. 

So actively believing in God, which is closely linked to going to church, is good for society and community, is good for your health, and is also enjoyable as well. Enough to put me in full on sales mode and say “See you in church on Sunday!” 😊 

Rev Chris


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