Is that title striking enough?
Has it caused you to shake your head in disbelief?
I’m perhaps being slightly dramatic, but the point I am trying to make is deeply serious.
For decades now we have often been guilty of thinking and living in such a way that we exist on an Island that truly is ‘The last stronghold of the Pure Gospel’.
It is true that God has blessed the Western Isles in many ways for many years.
It is true that we still have the highest % of Church attendance than anywhere else in the UK (40%’ish).
It is true that we still have the blessing of hearing true Gospel teaching in every true Church on the Island.
Not one of these blessings, along with the countless others, should be forgotten or thought little off.
But these blessings do not make us a Christian Island; they do make us an Island where God has been pleased to bless His people in incredible ways for many years, but not a Christian Island.
To view ourselves in such a way is untrue, unhelpful, and ultimately unbiblical.
Even in the golden years of old, the years of the great and incredible revivals that God brought to our shores, even then we were not a Christian Island.
We were an Island that had a greater sense of the power of God and His Gospel, an island that has seen the Spirit move in incredible ways, an island that has experienced the reviving and saving power of our God, but we were never a Christian Island.
Because such a place, such a concept, simply does not exist. At least not in the way we may perhaps first think of it.
The same thinking prevails in the Church, in many ways, on a nation-wide level.
When we think of Scotland we may find ourselves thinking to the ‘Land of the Book’, when in reality the modern situation is something completely different.
How many Bible believing, evangelical, committed Christians do you think there are in Scotland today?
The best sources I can find put the number between 50-100K, with the real number likely to be much closer to the lower end of the spectrum, that’s between ~1 – 2% of our total population.
Let’s assume there are sixty thousand faithful Christians in Scotland, even then that number is outdone by the attendees at a busy game at Murrayfield or Celtic Park.
Even in the rose-tinted days of old, our Christians brothers and sisters lived in a country, and on an Island that was not “Christian”.
We now live on an Island, and in a country that is far from even that.
Our Island is changing.
It is becoming more hostile to the Gospel, that is a fact that is hard to deny.
The evidence of that is clear in the changing outlooks, lifestyles, and shared opinions of Islanders.
It is a sad thing to watch, it is heart-breaking to see the good things of God trampled underfoot.
But to spend our precious time bemoaning the passing of halcyon days gone by is a proven tactic of the enemy to depress and slow us down in our present mission.
What are we, as the Church, called to do? What is our mission in our homes/ villages/ Island etc.
It is not to try and grasp at what we once were, or what we once had, our mission – or job is to be salt and light where the Lord has placed us.
To boldly and lovingly share the Gospel, and then live lives that reflect that.
We have not been called to be the custodians of our heritage, instead we are to be missionaries to a lost people who are dead in the dark.
To bring them the life giving Gospel, and point them to the only One who can save them.
Our beautiful wee town has a wonderful motto:
“God’s Providence is Our Inheritance”
God has been good to us, we have the foundation of solid theology, of Christian fellowship, of a heritage of believers and blessings – but these are blessings to be used for His glory rather than to be rested on for our relaxation.
We can praise God for His goodness to the Island over the years, but to continually look back at past glory instead of focusing on our current mission is to neglect our duties as His people.
At an even more serious level, it’s not just unhelpful to always be looking back to past golden days, it’s also unbiblical.
We have been placed in the time and place where we are to serve, and we must take the situation as we find it. Just as the saints before us trusted the harvest to God and then got on with the hard work, our calling and toil has not changed.
See, there is no such thing as a truly Christian Island or even a truly Christian Nation, but that is only because we belong to something far greater – an eternal Christian Kingdom.
Where we will see decline in Gospel care in our Island – where we are but sojourners and pilgrims – in the Kingdom where we live, we will only ever see eternal increase!
Are we looking for a city made by man, is that the goal of our journey? We know we are to be like Abraham “…he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
We long to see more of the Kingdom of God on our Island, and God is still pouring out that blessing on us.
We still see hearts of stone being turned to flesh, of people acknowledging Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
Even if the outlook becomes darker, our job does not change.
We are not looking back for the Island to be like it once was, instead we get to work and look now for a plentiful harvest from the Lord of the harvest!
When Zion’s bondage God turned back,
2 Then filled with laughter was our mouth,
our tongue with melody:
They ‘mong the heathen said, The Lord
great things for them hath wrought.
3 The Lord hath done great things for us,
whence joy to us is brought.
4 As streams of water in the south,
our bondage, Lord, recall.
5 Who sow in tears, a reaping time
of joy enjoy they shall.
6 That man who, bearing precious seed,
in going forth doth mourn,
He doubtless, bringing back his sheaves,
rejoicing shall return.