We are called to change ourselves and to show love. We are called to be Christ to others. We are not called to force others to behave in particular ways.
Also, when we believe, life takes a very different context – life on this planet ceases to be all important as we see what is beyond. We also know a God who gives justice even amongst what seems to be so unfair and unjust. Ultimately justice is that God will judge us fairly – justice between people in this life takes a different place. Justice in this life is something that we should seek to provide, reflecting God’s justice.
When we seek our own survival above the survival of others we fall back into the failed way of living, we fall back into a self centred life which doesn’t look beyond to God’s provision. Attempts at self survival are doomed – we can’t do it – only God can give us our survival as we give our lives to him.
If we back war, police with guns or any kind of ‘self survival over love for our enemies’ then we are reverting to (human) type and we deny Christ’s provision and Christ’s message of love. We will continue to be responsible for the circle of violence and for the death of the innocent.
I am off on Holiday tomorrow or supposed to be. Jo is not too well, which is a real downer as we have been looking forward to going away. Could do with a small miracle tonight so we can all go and selfishly I could really do without the hassle. It was due to be the first time in years that I had actually gone away for a WHOLE week and was really looking to it. Good time with the FYT team last week and got several loose ends for CYM tied up BUT I had really built up going away in my head as I have been so busy. I even decided against taking any theology books to read. Now just want it to come together and get away with Jo being better. HELP
The Governments Green paper on Youth has finally been published and a link to the summary can be found here.
This year also sees the launch of The Frontier Lecture at Greenbelt where Bob and Annette Holman will be reflecting on long term Christan community based mission and youth work and compare this to current government policy including the new green paper.
The Frontier Lecture aims:
To provide a focused well thought out, original, insightful talk around the issues of social justice, and frontier theology. A prophetic call towards a community of Shalom.
1. To provide fresh insight on the interaction of faith and justice.
2. To highlight policy and practice within the Christian community and government, that does not promote Shalom.
3. To broaden the variety of people able to hear the message by holding an Annual Lecture at different Christian events, e.g. Greenbelt, Spring Harvest, Youthwork.
4. Raise the profile of FYTâ€™s contribution to issues of social justice with young people and communities.
In response to Nikki’s questions I am not sure. Having a conversation recently reinforced the issue that the gospels were recorded after many of the letters. I was discussing inclusive communion and how Jesus included Judas in the meal even though he was about to betray him. Does this give us evidence that we can make communion inclusive? One response suggested was that as Judas subsequently hanged himself, that this was a result of taking communion in an unworthy manner. However this sits very uneasily as Jesus himself then set Judas up and the unworthy manner bit was not mentioned in the gospels but in letters. So I still think there could be a case for inclusive communion (perhaps the agape meal that Nikki distinguishes) but I struggle with these kind of semantics and denying people a communion regardless of where we think they are as it may give glimpse of God.
The question was asked today why do we celebrate communion? My immediate thought was because at the time, having some sort sacred meal was very culturally relevant and a good way of connecting this “new” religion with the diverse religious communities around, particularly as the passage we were looking at the time was from Corinthians (a cosmopolitan city with a variety of temples and religions). Whilst all the gospels talk about the last supper, only Luke records that Jesus tells the disciples “to do this in remembrance of Him”. I wonder how much the early church read into these words (at the expense of the other gospels) to institute a communion meal that would help people connect and how much we have now read into it to see it as instituted by Jesus rather than by Paul and the disciples. This is not to say it is wrong to have communion or that Luke was not accurate, but maybe its time for a rethink about what we mean by communion and how we find ways that connect with the people today in the same way a sacred meal would have 2000 years ago.
One of the things the prisoners window got me thinking about was where we locate feelings. In psychology in discussions around consciousness there is the homunculus which describes the notion of feeling detached from consciousness and the part of the brain that allows you recognise processes (not very well explained sorry) but I always think about it like the numb skulls the men from the comic that control the person except that we are aware of them. I have been thinking about whether we internalise feelings as much in a more post modern mindset or we have a certain level of detached awareness as everything become more relative. I was discussing this the other day as whether guilt was a more internalised concept and therefore an inappropriate concept when discussing the gospel with people or evangelising because it is kept at a distance in more postmodern thinking patterns. Whereas shame is felt because of its external factor (ie felt and driven in relation to others rather than self) it is more processed and gets through the relativism that is around. I am not advocating the use of shame and guilt in evangelism but think out loud.
Stop the world I want to get off!
Had a great weekend away in Salisbury. The cathedral is great and has some great works of art, the coolest font and a great sculpture outside both by the same bloke. But the windows were fantastic especially the main window which was in memory of prisoners of conscience. Which set my mind and heart racing particularly as we were there the same day as the Live8 concert. It was also where the BBC did a Christmas drama thing with Timothy Spall as teacher taking a class away. A great drama tackling a load of issues. Sitting in the place I kept thinking what a great resource this place could be. I have always been quite critical of big old buildings, all that money for upkeep when you could sell it off for flats, but I reckon with a few risks you could do some really good stuff linking the building, drama and young people together around multifaith, spirituality and a host of other issues.
What does God want the most – our money or our time?
I’m posing this question (to which I’m going to give my own personal response in a moment) because I regularly (but not too often) hear it said that ‘God needs rich people in the church for their money’ or ‘It is good to get rich because God needs the church to have money’.
Now, from what I can see the Bible doesn’t make any comments along these lines. Sure, it does show situations where the money of rich people are used – some of those wealthy people being followers of God. So don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to say that God won’t use our wealth.
Other interesting Biblical accounts that relate to the subject include:
- Job – where God allowed him to be stripped of his wealth and then given new wealth.
- The coin in the fish – where Jesus took a coin from a fish to pay some tax.
- and there must be loads of examples where God gives the wealth of unbelievers to his children
I reckon that God can get money however he wants, whenever he wants. His difficulty is getting our hearts, getting us to follow him, getting us to show his love to others.
Interestingly there are plenty of examples where God bypasses money completely:
- The oil in the jars that wouldn’t run out.
- Turning water into wine.
- Feeding the 5,000.
- Manna in the desert.
And tonnes of other examples. In fact God’s use of money is the exception! However, if we look at the role of the church we find that God chooses to show himself largely through the church – i.e. through the commitment, time and deeds of those who follow him. It is our time that he needs, more than anything else.
A problem with the idea of ‘earning money for God’ is this:
Many say that we are over consuming and that our exploitation of nature is highly excessive, that we can’t carry on in the way we are. Now, we know that consumption is matched by production (you can’t consume what is not produced!), so if we believe that God wants our production to be as high as possible then one would have to assume that he is cool with the idea of raping the earth…
…I’m not convinced!