Cyprus And the Gulf - 2017 Presidential Address

Address by Rt Revd Michael Lewis, Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf

How inadequate it would be if mission and evangelism were equated with marketing and targeted campaigns; and how it would betray the Gospel, Christ, and God if discipleship were identified with recruitment.

Of course telling, announcing, sharing and welcoming are honourable and necessary for Christians and the Church.  But telling, announcing, sharing, and welcoming into what?  Why baptise, why confirm, why receive, why convert?  As for conversion, it’s God’s doing anyway and not ours.  And crucially, to quote a tough Glaswegian nun of my acquaintance on the subject of conversion, disciples are converted not so much from sin to righteousness as from righteousness to love.  From righteousness to love.

She means that there’s a wrong righteousness as well as a right righteousness.  Wrong righteousness is, though it rarely admits it, self-obsessed, self-interested, anxious about the boundaries of acceptance and salvation, as though we’re the arbiters, we’re the policemen.  Sadly this is precisely the sort of thing that others think Christians are about and that, down the ages and now, many Christians believe they should be about. Not so.  Righteousness is God’s.  Only God offers.  Only God has the right to define righteousness.  In any case, as my nun says, we need to talk less of righteousness and more of love.   Specifically love made actual; specifically love spelled out and defined in both the words and the deeds, in fact the whole life – and death – of the Word of God made flesh, God among us, in Jesus Christ.  At root it’s not a what that we tell, announce, share, welcome, baptise, and confirm into, evangelise and do mission for, so much as a whom:  God in Christ who is love supremely personalised and shockingly indiscriminately offered to all, everyone, without distinctions or limits. Read Full address