Political activity has been at a premium across the UK in the last few years with decisions being taken about the Scottish constitution, the European Union and our own parliamentary representatives at Holyrood and Westminster. As we read this we will no doubt be in the run up to voting in the next round of elections. Regardless of our political persuasions one thing we can all agree on is this; there have been big changes in the political map of the UK.
Change is normal in life. In fact, it is one of the only constants. As seasons of life come and go change is inevitable. Sometimes the changes can be good and we enjoy them. Other times they can be different to what we expected, causing us to stop and think. What is wonderful to know, is that the Lord Jesus remains the same regardless of the circumstance (Hebrews 13:8).
In the book of Chronicles there were big political changes going on for the people of God. David has been anointed as the king and this means change; quite simply there is a new person who has been charged by God to lead his people. And in the midst of this transition we are given a very helpful window into what a Godly response to changing circumstances looks like. There were men from the tribe of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). In other words, they recognised that David was the king that God had chosen so they gladly got behind him to see God glorified.
From what I can see this poses a number of challenges for Christians across Scotland. First of all, it is a call to prayer. We must pray that we would be men and women who would be like this; having a humility before God, seeking him to show us what it is that he is doing and how we can follow his leading. When was the last time you stopped and asked God, “what is it that you are doing in our land and in our community”? Speak to him and read his word and he will communicate with you. He delights to reveal himself to his people.
Secondly it is a call to action. I want to be clear, any action of any church must be founded on the first point; the word and prayer. If we do not found our action on these two things, what we are doing may work for a season but it will not produce lasting fruit. The men of Issachar knew what Israel should do, so they acted on it. Sadly, all too often, godliness is equated with inactivity. It is correct that we take time to think, pray and reflect. However, it is not honouring to God for us to know what he has asked us to do, pretend we haven’t heard and do nothing about it.
One final observation is that the church across Scotland needs to understand the times. This can be used to throw away the bible, church history etc… and that is just wrong. To understand the times means to look at our society and community, see what is going on and begin to think about how we can communicate who God is and what he has done through Jesus into these situations. Just because something worked in a previous generation does not mean that it will work in the current environment. What I mean is this; every one of us need to learn to give up things which are cultural expressions of Christianity which we like so that we can introduce people to Jesus without extra baggage. We all have our concept of what church should be and what true discipleship should look like. Many of these things may be good but the majority of the time they are grounded in a specific cultural outworking of some biblical truth. We need great wisdom in this period of change and transition; we need to pray.
My call to us is to come before God in humility as a people of prayer; without this we can do nothing and without this we will see nothing of lasting and eternal value.