I can easily identify with the academic who reckons the British have no problem with people being religious as long as it doesn’t intrude into public affairs. I get the feeling that Kate Forbes MSP would say that it chimes with her experience too. Talking recently to the BBC’s religion editor she suggested that people of faith are in the minority and in her experience are, by and large, fearful and “they either feel like they have to hide their faith or adapt it, and that is a cause for concern”. In fact, she seems to think that people of faith are being squeezed out of political life.

Put simply most people seem to think that ‘religion’ is OK as long as religious people keep their faith to themselves. But that is clearly not an option for a Christian who takes his or her faith seriously. If Jesus really is the ‘Christ’ then He is the King of Kings and demands our ultimate allegiance and that has all sorts of implications for how we live in the here and now.

I found myself thinking like this when I read a recent article on the writings of the Roman administrator Pliny the Younger. Pliny lived at the turn of the second century (about 110 AD) and he was trying to figure out how he should react to the growing Christian influence in his area. In Martyn Whittock’s words Pliny was being confronted by ‘an extraordinary radical community that was making waves due to both what it believed and how it lived’. Among other things ‘Christians refused to subscribe to the imperial cult focused on the emperor. This was a direct challenge to Roman imperial ideology and led to trouble. This was where religious belief became very political indeed’.

That’s why many of us need to rethink our understanding of Christian missionaries like the apostle Paul. They didn’t whiz around the word offering people a different kind of ‘religious experience’. They saw themselves as the ambassadors of a King and they were doing all they could to establish cells who would be loyal to Him and live a way that reflected His values. That’s why they never sought to impose their faith on anyone for example. Like Jesus they believed in the power of persuasion and sacrificial love.

They knew they should pray for the authorities of course, and they encouraged civil obedience too. But they knew if they had to make a choice between God and any other human authority there was no question as to what they should do.

If true then the Christian message has implications for everyone then because it clearly says the day is coming when everyone will have to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. It’s for this very reason I spend my time challenging people to take a good look at the evidence. Sadly, far too few are willing to do so. That’s extremely disappointing for me of course, but I keep on going because the Bible tells me that it will prove more than embarrassing for those who refuse to acknowledge Him. It will prove disastrous.

Like it or not then Christians have no option but to share their faith and to allow it to shape all they say and do and they must never allow themselves to be cocooned away from the real world. That would make for an easier life but it would be a denial of everything they say they believe. To put it bluntly Christians must live radically different lives and share their incredibly radical message in such a way that everyone is given the opportunity to accept or reject the truth for themselves.