The morning after the night before! Last night, in fact early this morning, I had the experience of appearing on the Stephen Nolan show, along with ex Tory MP Jerry Hayes. You can hear the whole show here – (at least for 30 days) – the relevant part is from 2 hours until the end. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b065s3mg
We also have the relevant part here:
I am feeling somewhat shattered and battered. Let me explain why.
- Slip Ups – I got so much wrong. I knew that as it happened. There is no need for me to agonise over every wrong word or silly remark I made – and there were several. For example when asked if I thought homosexuality was a sin – I simply answered yes when I should have said that I thought homosexual practice was a sin. There were many things I should have said and didn’t – and others that I shouldn’t have said. I am sure that the tone wasn’t right at times – mainly because I found the ex-Tory MP (Jerry Hayes) to be smug, condescending, ignorant and patronizing. He thought he was being clever asking if I was a Wee Free and whether we allowed masturbation in the Church. But I shouldn’t have let that get to me.
- Set Up – Whether deliberately or not, I was set up. I turned up at the studio an hour earlier than necessary, having read and prepared the headline pages of todays newspapers, expecting to be discussing them. Instead we spent 40 minutes discussing transgender! This after a very emotive 30 minute interview with an 11 year old girl who now says she is a boy. After such a scenario then of course you are coming to come across as some kind of hard-hearted intolerant bigot. Personal story and feeling always trumps fact and the wider situation. Given that we did not start until midnight, I felt like it was an ambush at high midnight!
Sin – However I don’t want to use the late hour, the smug Tory or the set up as an excuse. The reason I got this wrong was simply because I am sinful. James 3:2“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” I am not a perfect man. I can’t blame other people or circumstances for my own sins and inabilities. If my MP opponent was smug, patronizing etc., I know that in many ways I am worse. If I know Christ and his Word, my sin is greater, not lessened, because of that knowledge. And that goes for the whole church. One of the most difficult things in appearing on these kinds of shows is that the voice of the church has either been reduced to the shrill and somewhat nutty legalism, or more often the wooly banalities of those who distort and twist the word of God so that they can fit in with the culture. Walking the tightrope between those two views is a difficult balancing act – for a sinner like me!
- Spiritual – Many people won’t understand this, but some will. Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Again I state this not as an excuse but this past week has been incredibly tough and intense. Illness, suffering, struggle, people wanting to know more about Christ, being in the ‘pangs of childbirth’ for the church….I was exhausted heading into this. And again that is not to make an excuse. I knew I was in a spiritual battle – I should have put on the ‘full armour of God’. And of course the reaction afterwards has been fierce.
- Service – I have been through this several times and I can honestly say that whilst I rejoice that a Christian is asked to speak on the BBC, I wonder if it should be me. There was a time when I would have relished being seen as a spokesman for the Christian Church in the UK. That was when I was young and immature and knew little of spiritual warfare! I would love to retreat into my books, family, congregation and personal life. But I long for Christians to speak in the public arena – so my prayer is, ‘Lord here am I, send someone else’. But meanwhile I consider it a privilege to serve the Lord in this way.
- Sovereignty of God– But – and this is the most important thing. It’s not about me. I hope I am not upset and frustrated because I let myself down – although who can know the human heart? My trouble is that for me this is not a game. I really believe this. I love the Lord and I don’t want him to be diminished or his glory abused because of my behaviour and words. And I love his people and don’t want to let them down. But I take great comfort in this. God is sovereign. Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lords purpose that prevails.
- Sustenance of God – And I love the way that in the midst of the battles this week the Lord has again and again fed me. I thank him for friends, family, the church, John Flavel and most of all, His word. My reading last night when I came home was Luke 18 which gave me the prayer for my night time tossing and turning – ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’. This morning I was fed with some delightful and challenging passages as well as Mr. Flavel. The Lord never patronises or brings false comfort – he goes deep. And although that sometimes hurts – he never wounds without healing.
So back to the battle. I get to speak the Gospel tonight at the CLC conference in the Steeple and in St Peters tomorrow. Onwards and upwards. I leave you with the collect this morning from the Book of Common Prayer.
“O Lord, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen”
PS. BBC Radio5Live had said they wanted me as a regular contributor. If that is the right thing please pray that the door would be kept open. I’m not sure that they will want to continue!