You’ve heard it in the media; you’ve seen it in the polls: Europeans seem to be unhappy and angry. The rise of National Populism in many countries, fragile economies, joblessness, overreaction to terrorism, increasingly authoritarian politics, rejection of ‘political correctness,’ views about Muslims…
So, angry, but why? And can the anger be turned into motivation to do something, into a mission?
This is what a small group of Evangelical Alliance and other organisational leaders addressed at the beginning of February at a retreat in Amsterdam. The ‘Think Tank’ meeting was called by the EEA and the Schuman Centre for European Studies and brought together views from north, south, east and west of the continent.
The West, and Europe in particular, is entering a rough and unprecedented cultural whirlwind, where values and assurances that had so far defined us are radically put into question. Europeans’ reaction is spasmodic. Angst defines people’s attitude and both politics and culture are fostering a growing, polarised ‘us versus them’ mentality.
“Many of us talk about European society being like a vase of flowers, with each bloom now cut off from its Christian roots. It now appears that the petals are falling off the flowers,” said Julia Doxat-Purser, EEA’s Socio-political Representative. The meeting aimed at framing the problem and find ways for Evangelical Alliances and Christian communities, together with key Christian organisations and thinkers, to align our forces to respond and offer fresh Gospel hope to our continent.
There is a bewildering ethical ‘noise’ out there, and Christians seem to be deafened by it too. We need a compass. Christel Lamère Ngnambi, Brussels Representative of the EEA, explained: “With this consultation, we want to be like the men ‘from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.’ (1 Chronicles 12:32.)”
The consultation was lively and very rich. The group collected stories about what Christians and leaders are going through but also about the general mood in places like the UK, Poland, Belgium or Switzerland. Participants sought to discern God’s providence and look at what this is saying about the role of God’s people.
Those who propagate hate and polarisation come from all sides and tend to do just the contrary of what Jesus asks his followers to do. So, the group left with a number of questions to pursue: Where is our engagement with the other side? How do we actively recognise their needs and show vulnerability? How do we help those who are polarised to do the same?
This article by Dave Landrum, Director of Advocacy of EAUK, comments on our turbulent political times and how Evangelicals should respond. He includes themes that were discussed there to begin to prepare a roadmap for how Christians can respond with hope and courage to the challenges we face.
These times are uncertain but also promising. So, what should God’s people do when Europe is angry?
Father, we pray that your Church across Europe will know how to respond to all the political uncertainty, anger and fear that abound. Renew our hope and trust in Christ alone and equip us to act as salt, (preserving against rot) and light (bringing clarity and life in the darkness). In Jesus’ name, AMEN