The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby, has just recently attended a meeting of Bishops and Primates abroad (The Anglican Consultative Council, Accra, Ghana) where he has described how the secularisation of western society has dramatically changed the morality of financially rich, independent Europeans over the last 30 years. Indeed, with 75% of people under 30 in the UK claiming to have ‘no religious affiliation’, the Archbishop saw this as further evidence that we live in a post-Christian world and society.
The Archbishop also noted that along with financial independence, people have sought other personal and individual freedoms, longing to be free from the traditional norms and external constraining authorities and influences. Such as ‘how we live’, ‘who we love’, ‘how we change and manipulate our bodies’, ‘produce our children’ and even ‘how we die’. He then went on to describe how this modern post-Christian morality, was not only a morality for the wealthy, powerful and intellectually well educated – but also a morality that does not believe in human sinfulness and failure. Nor does it believe in forgiveness or hope – and this is where the church struggles.
However, Lent is a time when we are all invited to pause, take stock and reflect upon the way that we live, both as individuals and as part of a broader society. And sometimes this reflection isn’t easy, because although we appreciate that much of what we do is positive and good – much of it is not! ‘To err’ they say ‘is to be human’, but sometimes our errors and mistakes have unintended consequences, inflicting damage not only upon our own lives but also those of the people around us. The ripples of our ‘sin’ (as the Bible puts it) often spread further than we can possibly imagine, having a negative impact not only upon those we love and come into contact with, but also within our communities, our society and the world – and even the God who loves it.
Lent is therefore a time when we can reflect once again upon the glorious story of a God who so loved the world that, despite its sin, he stepped into it. Whose love led him to take upon himself the terrible consequences of our sin ‘in the person of Jesus’ by dying for us upon a cross, so that we might not only be forgiven but also have hope for the future. All we need to do is the one thing that modern people find so hard to do, which is to say sorry, sincerely repent (turn away from our sin) and recognise that in Christ we have a Saviour who loves us.
We may not be able to change the misfortunes or moralities of the entire world but we can make it better where we are – and as always, it always starts with us!
“Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1.15