Monday, December 28, 2009

Council Estate Christians 26: Are posh areas any better than Council Estates?

John Calvin wrote the following a long time ago - if its too hard to understand, just skip down to my bit below!
“For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white.” Institutes book 1, chapter 1.2

When people look at posh areas they often think these places seem more righteous than Council Estates – but this thinking has problems:

1) Compared to the enormous size of God’s righteousness, the differences of crime and morals between a council estate and posh area are very small. The whole country is tainted with sin. The whole country looks disgustingly sinful compared to God’s righteousness. When humans look at a council estate they may think that place is so much more sinful than another area, but in reality, both areas are sinful outposts of rebellion against God.

2) Different standards and grids are used to judge the sins of council estates to those of other areas. For example, someone who gets drunk on a council estate is seen as “legless”, whereas someone who gets drunk at a dinner party is seen as “jolly”. Someone from an estate who smokes crack is called a “crackhead”, whereas a politician’s child who does lines of coke “likes to party”. Someone who goes to the bookies each day on an estate is a gambler (who could never be a church leader). Yet someone who works in the city in stocks and shares is a respectable white collar worker (who could easily be a church leader). Council Estates (where everyone knows everyone) are called broken down communities, whereas posh areas (where few people know their neighbours) are seen up respectable communities.

So, are posh areas really any better? Really the question should be, “Are posh areas good enough?” Do they glorify God? Does anywhere in England glorify God? Yes, the true church does, which is why we need churches in council estates and posh areas.