There is a great little museum in the Bedford, UK celebrating and commemorating the life of John Bunyan, the C17th writer of Pilgrim’s Progress and numerous other books. Bunyan started his working life as a tinker repairing pots and pans but was later gaoled for many years for the heinous crime of preaching without permission. He was a non-conformist and only official Anglican clerics were allowed to conduct services. John Bunyan thought that being obedient to God was more important than obeying the State’s rules. He was prepared to pay the price. Which he did. He used his time in gaol to do much of his writing. In the Bedford museum there are many aspects of Bunyan’s life recreated and presented. It is well worth a visit. Also the story of his life and his writings are well worth reading.
Bunyan’s life confronts us with a question: What price are we prepared to pay for being obedient? Those of us who are Christians in western countries, we are not used to paying the physical, financial, social and emotional price for being a Christian. We prefer a theology of financial blessing rather than a theology of sacrifice and commitment. But as we descend into a post Christian era in the West, we may find that to be genuine in our faith we will need to find the inner “John Bunyan” who is prepared to stand up and be counted – no matter what the cost.
If there was ever a time, in recent history, when our neighbours needed to know that there is an alternative lifestyle and worldview to the current obsessions – it is now. People need to see lives of hope,direction and purpose. That is what Bunyan was doing. In the conformity of his age he was showing that there was a greater King and a greater Kingdom than that of Charles 2nd. Our challenge is to do the same for our era, our leaders and our neighbours.