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Last Man Standing

I have been moved this week by the graciousness and clarity of the words of Kate Forbes in dealing with the reaction to her candidature for the role of Scottish First Minister in succession to Nicola Sturgeon.

What has struck me is how puzzling many people have found her articulate and faithful commitment to orthodox Christian beliefs and ethics. It is striking that Kate Forbes is not advocating forcing these beliefs and ethics upon the Scottish people, nor is she suggesting that there be a rollback of present legislation on same sex marriage but making plain those areas of national political discourse she finds hard to support because of her Christian faith.

If Kate Forbes was a young woman from my congregation, I would be pleased to see her desire to serve her nation and her decision to be honest about what is distinctive about her faith.

This courageous young woman is not the first believer to face a hostile press because of her moral stance. Tim Farron speaks eloquently in his book Mucky Business, about the pressures he faced from the press when he was the Party Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

We have got to a position in our society when our views on same-sex relationships and Trans rights have become the touchstone of what is acceptable and unacceptable in a civilised society.

Yet as AN Wilson argued in The Times on Saturday, that same civilised society has made heroes of principled Christians who have shown demonstrated integrity in sticking to their guns.

“Is it right that Christians such as Kate Forbes, should be hounded out of public office for sharing the faith of Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King and Thomas More?”

(AN Wilson The Times Saturday 26th February 2023)

Clearly the answer is “No,” and should always be “No!”

I was recently preaching on Daniel Chapter 3 on the story of the faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in refusing to down and worship the King’s statue. This was their red line, and they were unwilling to cross it.

What made Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Tim Farron and Kate Forbes so clear about what they believe and what they are willing to do about it?

The common denominator is integrity. Integrity for them is have a clear sense of identity, a firm grasp of biblical faith, and the courage to make tough, and sometimes costly decisions about where that faith leads them.

Where is this integrity formed? The nurture of a godly home, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and biblical preachers. Preachers, does your life and preaching shape people so that they are equipped to love God with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind, and all their strength? Do your sermons help hearers to grow in wisdom, shape a Christian mind, and equip them to navigate life, with all the curved balls it throws at us?

When the members of our congregations find themselves in the hot seat like Kate Forbes did last week are they ready, or are they left floundering?

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