Mike put me on to a great website last week called www.wordle.net . Basically you can copy any piece of text and then paste it into the site in order to make a word cloud like the one below. There are various options of layout, colour and font etc and the resulting word cloud illustrates the words that are repeated in the text. The more often a word appears, the larger it will be in the cloud. It will be helpful when looking at bible passages.
The cloud here is of the text of David Cameron’s speech on multiculturalism made at the weekend. It shows very clearly the things the Prime Minister is seeking to address. In the speech, he declares multiculturalism to have failed and calls for a ‘muscular liberalism’. The speech brings into focus what we now refer to as the radicalisation of young Muslims. You may be wondering what any of this has to do with a bunch of peaceful law abiding Christians but sadly, there are things that should be ringing alarm bells.
The full text of the speech is available from the Prime Minister’s website here. Perhaps the most telling section is this;
“Now, second, we must build stronger societies and stronger identities at home. Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things. Now, each of us in our own countries, I believe, must be unambiguous and hard-nosed about this defence of our liberty.”
So if we fail to share these values on say equal rights of parents to adopt children regardless of their sexuality, we do not belong here? I have lived in South Wales for almost all of my life, my ancestors have lived here for over a thousand years but according to the PM, I no longer belong here, not because of something that I have done but because of what I believe. It seems the thought police have arrived.
Two things occur to me. First, we must not retreat. We have a part to play in our society, reaching out to all people regardless of their lifestyles. The Lord Jesus is our great example and he was always criticised for spending time with the wrong sort of people. He never endorsed sin (John 8:11) but he loved sinners and that is very good news for me.
Secondly, David Cameron is right, we really do not belong. Peter’s first letter is addressed to strangers in the world and the apostle goes on to urge believers to live as strangers (1 Peter 1:1, 17, 2:11). The same point is made by the writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:13-16). There is a difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. We have a different world view.
We should not be surprised or alarmed by these things. There are many places in the world where Christians face fierce persecution and much of the New Testament was written from prison cells, why should we be any different? We also have great and precious promises as Peter writes in his second letter.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
In case you’re wondering what a word cloud of this post would look like, I’ve included one below.