Some musings below from my recent readings and ponderings.
We live in what the experts call a change of era as opposed to an era of change. We stand upon a precipice that is as dramatic as the change of era that wiped out dinosaurs,that brought about the agricultural age, the industrial era and the enlightenment. We live in a post modern, post Christendom era that has new markers and needs new language, methods and leadership. These change of eras are happening more frequently and for some these changes have occurred within your own life span. What once took hundreds of years is now taking decades. The advance of technology, the rise of the tower of Babel as globalisation takes hold, the increasing search for nirvana whether through spirituality or addictions, and our own increased sense of ego give rise to this change of era.
The change of era challenges us and the church to question how we engage with the people God sent us to love. Some would say “why reinvent the wheel?” or fix something that isn’t broke. Folks we are tricking ourselves if we think that we can continue as we have done for the last 17 centuries (since Constantine formalised the Christian religion). We cannot assume that everyone is naturally Christian or that they will know the basics of our faith. We cannot assume that our role is to convert the Muslims or the Hindus or the Jews like missionaries sent into foreign lands. Our mission field is our community, the one on our doorsteps and we are being sent out like missionaries of old into this field. When Jesus said the harvest fields were many and the workers few it wasn’t an excuse but a challenge. Once we are harvested for God we become the workers.
God wants us to pull together and work for him in the harvest field he has given us. And what a harvest field we have. But we have issues of credibility to deal with. How far have we drifted from the Gospel? How caught up have we become with the institution of church that we no longer have the courage to challenge it? Are we modern day Pharisees? And yes I know that’s a tough question and it is one I have to answer too.
If Jesus came and lived out the Gospel in Forth or your village what would that look like? Take a moment to reflect on that question – be inspired! Write down your answers and then look at what we his body are actually doing. Challenging isn’t it? And if it isn’t what are you missing? Seriously stop now and write down a few thoughts.
We are not reinventing the wheel – we are mending it. The wheel of the Gospel needs to be reclaimed by the Church, by you and me and then put to work. The wheel of the Gospel will bring about the following in our community:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18, 19 NIV)
because we are Christ’s body in this place.
If we are truly to be disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ we have much to learn and much to seek forgiveness for. The amazing thing is that just as Jesus engaged with the fallen when he walked this earth he still engages with us today. Discipleship is about more than building up the lives of the faithful, but about journeying with God. Remember we only plant the seed, it is up to God how he makes it grow. Nor can we judge others from what we see for only God knows our hearts.
Too often we ask the question – how do we improve the church? How do we make the church more welcoming? We focus on buildings and technology and music and the right programmes (and yes these have a role to play) but perhaps if we put Christ back at the centre we would be welcoming far more into God’s kingdom. Jesus said that he had nowhere to lay his head yet he touched the lives of thousands. Peter was terrified of the authorities yet when the Spirit came he preached the Good News without fear. And history since then abounds with tales of the miraculous. I do believe that all things are possible with God.
But in order to receive we must ask, in order to find we must search and in order to move forward we must signal our willingness by knocking on the door.
We readily quote the verse Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever as if st means nothing has changed. Jesus hasn’t, but have we?
Christianity minus Christ equals religion! Especially now when we enter the post Easter/Ascension/Pentecost time of the year, let’s make an effort to put Christ at the centre of all we do, are and be.