Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Relevant Gospel

The church is not called to make the Gospel credible to an unbelieving world.

The church is not called to make the Gospel 'relevant'.

The church is called to make the world credible to the Gospel.

The Gospel is relevant because it is the Gospel.

The world does not determine what the church believes.

The world does not determine how the church lives.

The Gospel determines how the church lives and what the church believes.

So the church is called to be faithful to the Gospel, living as the people that God has called us to live according to the life that Jesus beckons us towards.  Jesus embodied his very teaching, living what he taught, and he calls his disciples to follow him in the same way.

To live as faithful disciples of God is to live the Gospel and be determined by it.  The lies of the world will expose how Christians are meant to live.  The church therefore lives in this way.

This is relevant.

This is credible.

This is the call to faithfulness.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Success

Our calling as disciples of Jesus is not one of success.

'Rather, to do what we have been told to do by Jesus and to do what we have been told to do in the manner he has instructed is what is important.  Our responsibility is to be faithful to the task God has given us.  The result is God's doing.'  Hauerwas, Matthew p 112

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Police, Guns and the Death Penalty

The tragic and horrendous killing of two unarmed police officers on Tuesday has re-ignited the discussion on whether police officers should be armed and if the death penalty should be brought back.

Prayers and messages of sympathy are being sent to the families of Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone after their murder.  I have no idea how their families must feel, but the pain and shock would be crippling I am sure.

In light of what happened there is understandable anger and high emotions about whether or not police officers should be armed.  Along with that discussion is the call for some murderers to be given the death penalty.

Now, as I have said before, I have no idea how I would respond if my wife or daughters were murdered. But I do know how Jesus calls me to live my life and how his call on my and our lives must impact every decision and every political and ethical act that the church makes.

Too often the teachings of Jesus are divorced from the person of Jesus.  The teachings of Jesus simply become a tick box of beliefs and ethical acts rather than being rooted in the very person of Jesus.

Jesus enacted and lived out what he taught.

So when it comes to non-violence it is not simply about Jesus teaching that we should turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute you, he actually models and lives what that teaching looks like.

It is therefore not a naive ideology, but a concrete reality.

Jesus lived it and calls the church to live it.  He shows us how to live it and says 'follow me.'

It is as a follower of Jesus that I would always oppose the death penalty and for all officers to carry guns.

It is as a follower of Jesus that I believe violence is wrong.

It is not a naive ideology that doesn't work in the 'real 'world', but a call to live another way, to not let the world determine my life and ethics and to not let violence be the way of life that I live, but to live as a follower of the Prince of Peace.

Death is not the final word.  Jesus is the Word of God who speaks life beyond death.  He is able to do that because violence and death unleashed their worst onto him and he took it, absorbed it and defeated it through his own death and resurrection.

My prayers are with these bereaved families.

Peace will not come through violence but through prayer and the active pursuit of peace through peace.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses and Truth

The Jehovah's Witnesses came round on Saturday.

One of my mate's and I have spoken quite a bit about having visits from the JW's and how best to actually engage in conversation.  When they come round they have a set agenda and questions that they ask in order to speak according to how they have been 'trained'.  My mate and I both agreed that it is pointless to enter into discussions like this because you're never really having a proper conversation and actually getting to know them as real people.  So if they ever come round I actually try and get to know them as people.

On Saturday I said to them I was interested in truth and honesty.  I said to them that I wanted them to be honest with me as to why they were standing on my door step.  I told them not to give me all the pre-planned chat that they always use but to simply be honest with me about why they were standing on my door step.  So they shared a little bit, but kept going back into their safe shell of pre-planned chat.

And then they started to say things that simply are not true and I really challenged them about this.

They come out with blanket statements that simply are not true, but if someone is not aware then they will swallow these statements.  And I've got no time for lies and half-truths.  If we're going to chat and discuss anything we need to speak truthfully to each other otherwise there is no point.

'We're the only organised religion who believe in pacifism.'

'We're the only organised religion who opposed Hitler.'

'The Christian Church teaches that people are resurrected without a body.'

'The Christian Church doesn't believe Jesus is King of the earth.'

These are all statements that were said to me on Saturday, all of which are false.  So I told them that they were false and gave them concrete examples of why these statements are false.  I said to them that it is not right that they stand on my door step saying things that simply are not true about the Church.

I told them that Quakers, Mennonites, Anabaptists are examples of pacifists within the Christian Church.

I told them to look up history properly and not Jehovah's Witness history and they will find the 'Confessing Church' who opposed Hitler.

I told them that the orthodox position held by the Christian Church (which I take are any who can declare the Nicene Creed) is that those in Christ will be resurrected with a body, as Jesus himself was raised with a body.

I told them that the Christian Church absolutely believes Jesus is King of the earth and will establish his Kingdom upon the earth for all eternity.

I told them that they can't make statements like this unless they really knew what they were talking about.  I told them that they needed to read Christian writers to actually know what the Church believes.

I said that I am interested in the truth, and if they are standing on my door-step being untruthful then that simply is not right.

To be fair to the two guys, they had obviously been told these statements and were simply repeating them.  But then this is the problem.  They had not thought or looked into these things for themselves.

I hope I see them again...