A UKIP leaflet has just come through our door, urging us to vote for them in the forthcoming European elections. The party's main concern seems to be immigration - that Britain is being harmed because too many foreigners are coming into the country.
Putting aside economic, social, legal, patriotic and other arguments for one moment (on all of which, by the way, I suspect that I disagree strongly with UKIP), in what ways would a restrictive immigration policy help the gospel? I really can't think of any.
It used to be commonplace for Christians, especially pastors, to remind each other that what matters is ‘faithfulness, not numbers’. By this was meant that we are called to obey and teach the truth of Scripture, without compromise; the question of how many people (if any) join us is not one that need trouble us, as it is ‘God who gives the increase’. Our job is to be faithful; we can leave the numbers to the Lord.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, minister of Westminster Chapel in London in the middle of the twentieth century, saw himself primarily as an evangelist. In 1942, he spoke at a conference of leaders of the Crusaders’ Union (a popular Christian youth movement) on the subject of modern evangelism. What he said is still relevant and helpful.
Firstly, he urged his listeners to avoid two extremes – that of the ‘perfectly orthodox’ whose work shows no fruit, on the one hand, and those, on the other hand, who appear to obtain ‘phenomenal results’ which do not in fact last.