As Londoners are left reeling with shock at a succession of terrible tragedies, angry residents and pundits inevitably start looking for someone to blame.
When children fight in the playground and someone gets hurt, it’s always someone else’s fault. But there is a sense in which we are all to blame – for we have, as a nation, turned our backs on truth, honesty and integrity in favour of the brave new world’s ‘anything goes’ mantra as long as it feels right. How do we measure truth when it is so subjective? If it’s not found in the Bible, where do we look for it?
After discarding our Christian heritage and throwing out God’s laws, it’s not surprising there are so many different versions of truth portrayed by today’s media.
The BBC, for example, has shown a propensity in recent times for turning terrorists into victims – particularly when reporting on violence in Israel. Thus, on June 16, when a 23-year-old Israeli policewoman was stabbed to death and four others injured in a Jerusalem attack which also involved shooting, the BBC tweeted: “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem” – a shamefully misleading headline focusing attention on the attackers, as if they were the victims.
The prophet Isaiah wrote of how – when we have turned our backs on God – “truth has stumbled in the streets; honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found.” (Isaiah 59.13-15)
At the rally following London’s Al Quds march, the Iranian-inspired day calling for the destruction of Israel, one speaker perversely blamed the tragic West London fire on ‘Zionists’.
“Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists,” he ranted. “They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell (the tower block).”
As blogger Richard Millett asked: “How in 2017 is a terror organisation like Hezbollah, with a rifle emblazoned on its flag, allowed to parade through London? Is the British Jewish community so ill-considered, so small that we are so easily sacrificed? Would the authorities allow Al Qaeda or ISIS parades?”
The marchers have exploited a loophole in the law against flying the flags of proscribed organisations like Hezbollah by claiming that they are supporting its political (rather than military) wing even though they both use the same flag and support the same cause, which is the total destruction of the Jewish state, as their chants – “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – clearly indicate.
Whatever happened to the law against ‘hate speech’?
Convened by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a British Muslim organisation with close ties to the Iranian regime, the march took place despite a petition calling for its ban signed by over 20,000 people which stated: “After the terrible recent terrorist events in Manchester and London, this display of extremism has no place on the streets of the UK.”
In the light of such a brazen demonstration of hatred, a backlash from unhinged members of society is hardly surprising, as in the tragic events outside the Finsbury Park mosque which left one dead and a number injured when a 47-year-old man ploughed into them with a van.
Unfortunately, this attack is being cynically used by jihadists as a call to war. But neither Britons as a whole, nor Christians in particular, have any quarrel with the Muslims. We share their grief – our people are suffering all over the world for their faith – and we reach out to them with the love of Jesus. They are our friends, not our enemies. And Jesus has told us to love even those, like jihadists, who wish us harm!
But I see hope on three specific fronts, starting with the example of Christians in South Africa, to whom I have already referred on this site. Faced with corruption and violence in their nation, they came together on a farmer’s field to pray on April 22nd; not just the faithful few who turn up to such meetings, but a massive gathering of 1.7 million – more than the population of Birmingham, Britain’s second city. Many had travelled the length and breadth of that big country to plead God’s mercy on their troubles. Isn’t it time British Christians got together to do something similar? Is our situation not desperate enough, with violence becoming endemic and truth turned on its head?
Secondly, not far from Birmingham, I visited a friend in prison whose Christian faith shines out so brightly that he is effectively working as a chaplain to many of his fellow inmates. He knows from his experience in the outside world how it is often difficult to get people to talk about or share their faith, even in churches. But now he struggles to shut them up as they all want to share the goodness of God, especially during Bible classes and chapel services packed with men praising the Lord in full voice. And a friend tells of a jail in Wiltshire where men, “feeling completely abandoned by society, are so ready to hear the gospel”.
Many years ago I was told of a prophecy that revival in Britain would start in the prisons!
Thirdly, I have been profoundly moved by the response of churches in the Grenfell Tower area of London, scene of the tragic fire where an estimated 79 people perished and hundreds more were made homeless.
One such is the Tabernacle Christian Centre which had opened its doors to the victims at 2am on the night of the fire, shortly after it started. And they have been providing refuge and shelter ever since. Members had been praying at the church just before the fire broke out when someone shared what he felt was a ‘word from the Lord’ that He was going to bring many people into the church, and that they must be prepared!
A cross stands at the centre of the premises, with a menorah close by. “We preach Christ crucified,” the pastor explained, adding that they also love Israel and the Jewish people, and regularly pray for them.
Sally Richardson, a friend of mine who visited them, reported: “We can thank God for all the local churches – also including the Latimer Christian Centre – that have opened their doors, day and night, to victims of the tragedy. They have provided a listening ear, comfort (both spiritual and practical), and have fed, clothed and watered all who have come to them…”
She added: “I am reminded of the words of the Oxford martyr Latimer who, as he was burnt at the stake for his faith, turned to comfort fellow victim Ridley with the words ‘…we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.’
“Grenfell Tower has burned, but let’s pray that a candle will burn in North Kensington that will never be put out. May the surviving victims find Jesus to be their tower of refuge and strength.” (Proverbs 18.10)
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com