For so long, the Church in our land has been following the culture's lead. We've watered down God's word to fit society's expectations. We've played down the seriousness of sin, the need for repentance and our need for Jesus Christ.
We've acted as if Jesus is content to be part of a cultural equality and diversity landscape as we create a church culture that looks barely different from all the social clubs the world creates – from Parkruns to book clubs.
We might proclaim Jesus to be king of our lives on Sundays but ignore what that means the other six days of the week. As if he cares about what we do in the 'club' but not how we go about our work, nor about our culture and our laws.
We've barely murmured while society has made an idol of self, our physical bodies and sex. We've largely been silent while around 200,000 children are aborted each year in the UK. We hardly made a noise as governments and judges tore apart God's design for family through permissive divorce, civil partnerships, same-sex adoption and 'marriages'.
We've failed to challenge politicians as they've passed laws to protect evil and punish righteousness. We've allowed society to celebrate and idolise sin in the music we listen to and the entertainment we feed off. We end up in a drink-saturated society self-medicating the hurt the chaos is causing. And in the midst of this we expect our children to grow up sane.
As we've failed to stand and speak, others have. The wider culture is in the grip of atheistic humanism while Islam continues to grow in power and influence.
We have not been holy and set apart for God – we've let society's anti-Christian attitudes become our own. We've failed to speak clearly and so now, as western society faces a coronavirus crisis, the Church's voice is in danger of being just another cultural voice among many.
How, when we have merely reflected culture, can we claim standing to speak with authority, with comfort or with grace to people who are coming to realise their weakness and mortality? People may expect us to be a social service, but do they think we have anything relevant to say?
Society has been brought to its knees – will the Church get on her knees?
God's judgement is rarely simple and straightforward. We can't normally see God's specific purpose through tragedy or plague. But when we see turmoil and plague around us, we are to recognise our need for repentance (Luke 13:1-5).
These are hard words to write, and to hear. But as we commit God's world to God in prayer, let's make sure we are searching our own hearts, and recognising our failure as the Church in our nation to be the lights of the world we are called to be.
By God's grace in Jesus, he will surely forgive us. And he will commission us to do just what we have been failing to do all this time – being his holy people, calling the world to repent and follow Jesus.
During the coronavirus outbreak, let's be a better Church than ever – yes, by serving those around us sacrificially, but also by unashamedly calling our culture to repent of its sins and turn to Christ.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!"
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me." (Isaiah 6:1-8 ESV)
Andrea Williams is a lay General Synod member in the Church of England and chief executive of Christian Concern. This article first appeared on the Christian Concern website and is printed here with permission.