Never take notice of what people are saying until they have said, “BUT!” The “but” can change everything.
I liked the article that Benjamin Sledge wrote on “The Irrelevance of Christianity”. I even wish I had written it. I agree that we Jesus Followers should not be imposing our laws and values on others. We belong to another kingdom, and hold passports of another country. So we observe the laws, values and culture of that regime as top priority. BUT, Jesus did say he was putting us into THIS world and not taking us out of it. So we are here! I need to engage with this world and not put myself in a corner and become part of some ghetto.
That means to engage with the politics, the voting, the speaking and – if possible – pulling down handfuls of Kingdom into this time space world and persuading people to take on board Kingdom Values. Why? Because it’s good for all of us, both the followers of Jesus and everyone else on the planet.
So, I believe in a God of Love. He is one that loves all of humanity. This means that the laws of the Kingdom of God, the values of the Kingdom of God, The Morals of the Kingdom of God, must be for our good. It must be for our benefit. By that I mean the benefit of all humanity not just those who have discovered a relationship with the God who is there.
Logically then, if I know this God of love and His values, and understand that His way is the best way to live, of course, I will want to share His love and these values, not out of a sense of superiority, or one of condemning my fellow human beings, but because I want the best for the lives’ of others as well as my own. After all God does not make the sun to shine just on His followers, we all benefit from His goodness.
Now! That does not mean that, as Benjamin Sledge says, I hammer you with a book that you never read (i.e. The Bible). Looking at the history of Paul he did not do that. Of course, in His day he did not have the New Testament part of the Bible, he was still writing most of it.
What Paul did is very interesting. He wants good things for people. He wants people to get related to Jesus, the “risen from the dead” One. But he does not start there. In other words, what we might say is, he does not quote Bible to them, but rather he starts where people are. We should not – really – do anything else. So he starts on Mars Hill in Athens with that rather strange phrase, “Oh! I see you have an altar to the unknown God.” I know the unknown God. Let me introduce you to Him.
Paul does not quote the Bible to them. No! Not even the Old Testament Bible. Rather, he quotes their own poets and draws them from there to a better value system, a better way, a knowing of the unknown God.
It would have been quite difficult for Paul to get involved in the politics of Rome. It wasn’t a democracy. Although he gently tried at one point of time when he says in one of his trials before King Agrippa; “I know I am chained up, but what I have is still the best. Apart from these chains, I would want you all to have what I have got”.
Sure, people thought he was mad, but maybe what he had was so good that he wanted others to have that kind of life quality.
We live in a democracy. I am a follower of Jesus. I know that the value system that He gives, when applied gives a better life. Not always easy. Not always nice. Not always happy, but with a source of Joy and purpose. I guess I want to share that.
Surely I know that Morals can come from other sources. The Atheists are always telling me that. But what sort of morals? What sort of values? Are they the values of generosity? Of loving your enemies? Of doing good to those who are bad to you?
Lots would like me to be quiet and to keep my values to myself. But I care too much for the well-being of others to do that.
Bit of My Theology
It gives me some food for thought when people say ‘Its God will’ and everything that happens is ‘Gods Will’. I am not so sure. If that was the case, why does Jesus tell us to ask God that ‘His will be done’ if it’s going to be done anyway, seems a sort of waste of time.
Rather it seems to me that God will is affected by my free will. Can God change his mind, yes of course he can and there are lots of examples in the Bible of this. Can I go against what God wants or wills, most certainly, not a good Idea but it certainly can be done.
Does God change his Plans dependant on my pleas and of course the pleas of others. Yes of course He can and does. Does God give us sometime the things we ask for even though they are not good for us, yes certainly especially if you nag Him enough. Again not a good idea, but certainly it happens and it’s not good. For those who need Bible, to back up my theology, just check (2 Kings 20 or 1 Kings 11)
I think it’s very humbling that God will ask my opinion and he can change things according to my requests.
The thing we do have to note here, is that God does promise to make things ‘work for Good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes,’ even though the thing that maybe has happened was not His will, nevertheless He will make it good for some.
So how do we know that it was an answered prayer? That’s a hard one, especially when there are lots of people praying for opposite things. However it is much easier on the smaller scale, when one asks God for those things that are seemingly strange, out of reach, or just plain impossible, and He answers prayer. Many who do not believe in prayer put it down to ‘coincidences’ my delight is that when I pray I get a coincidence.
Seems like answered prayer to me. Check out just one of those answers:(http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/index.php/2013/08/the-answer-my-friend-is-blowing-in-the-wind.html)
So are these latest political events answers to prayer, I don’t know, am I allowed to say, I don’t know? Maybe they are, then again maybe they are not, or maybe I hope not, they are one of those Quail events we shall see.
Then of course we come back to those coincidences that I have harked on about many times on my Blog.
It seems to me that it’s possible to get a coincidence by praying, maybe that’s answered Prayer? Of course for those who cannot envisage a God who is personally interested in us, and will actually communicate two ways with us then all of the prayers, answered or otherwise are just part of the accident of nature?
There seems to me to be some great planning going on somewhere.
Edited: Keith Lannon
When Funny Is Not Funny…
Some years ago I was with a white friend who was marrying a black African girl, it was great fun. They had an English / African wedding which was full of dancing and laughter.
Later in conversation with the young man he asked, “Would you like to see what the African Elders have given me as a wedding present?”
Of course I was interested; he showed me an ornate stick.
“What is it?” I asked. I could see it was a stick, but I didn’t know what you were supposed to do with it.
He laughed and said, “It’s presented to all young men who get married. It is a stick to beat your wife with to keep her in order.” Then he laughed. I did not!
He then said, “I of course would not use it, I just think it’s funny.”
I replied, “Well, personally I don’t think it’s funny at all. I cannot laugh at such a gift, such an action.”
You in your small corner and I in Mine
When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school. I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.” I hated that line; I still don’t like it now. I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.
When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine. They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.
Negative – Lukewarm – Self Obsessed
I don’t like to be negative but it is my imagination that in the UK there are lots of people who are living in a small bubble.
Isn’t it great to be with passionate people? People who have vision, enthusiasm, Mission, concern for the big things? Such people are attractive to be around, they draw like magnets they are not boring they are challenging, inspiring, and usually ‘life full’ and often fulfilled people. None of that is negative is it?
Yet around me I see lots of the alternative. Conversation, both in person and of FB is of the small talk kind. Latest dress, shoes, entertainment; usually fairly inconsequential, never going to change the world much less the small space where they dwell. Often the pressure of life is the things that affect them personally, the things that they believe will bring them happiness. Joy would not be something understood here. Sadly the things they want are usually the ‘me’ kind I guess that is the spirit of the age ‘you are number one’!
I have thought about this a lot. It is one of those words that the English have borrowed from the German, but which in its usual dictionary explanation does not express all that the word implies. Some words are just like that, aren’t they?
The dictionary definition of the term is; “the spirit of the time and general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time”. Well yes, but the thing is when you go into the background of the word from a German perspective, it has many layers to it. This is perhaps why we don’t have a good feel of its translation or its common English usage. The word in German carries the idea of being in a fog, so the ‘spirit of the age’ is not recognised by you or me, because we are so influenced, affected, controlled by, engulfed by, our eyes covered by the fog of the spirit of the age that we do not know there is such a spirit nor can we see any alternative. From a German perspective you can only assess zeitgeist in retrospect; looking back or, better translated, the ghost of the past age. Then we can see what it was and know where they went wrong or how they could have done better. Hind sight is a wonderful thing.
Nutty Newspaper Nonsense
I reached the ultimate in surprise this week when I was asked if I knew that black people are able to receive a free oyster (bus and tube pass) if they live in London. Come on all my black friends if you did not know this – get one – problem is I do not know where from.
The young lady who was telling me this story went on to tell me that the person who had told her this great piece of news, when told, “No, that is not true”, looked at her with that knowing look that says “Oh, that’s what you think”.
It really is nutty nonsense from people who read certain types of newspapers that come out with this stuff, and then when you tell them no it’s not true, prefer to believe their fairy tale rubbish rather than any real facts.
Some of the other apocryphal stories I have been told are as follows, usually by wide eyed people who when, like my friend who told me the story of free travel, are told “no, it’s nonsense”, look at you as though you are the stupid one. Here are just some of them. ‘Did you know that they now give foreigner’s free cars’ ‘It’s terrible that you can only get a house on the council if you are not English’ ‘Did you know that immigrants get £120.00 per week unemployment allowances’ and so on, I have heard lots more, I must admit that I had not heard the one about black people getting free travel until this weekend. Nutty stuff or what?
YES OR NO?
Our sound bite age is impatient with answers that take more than two minutes. We want it simple and we want it quick and we want it to be correct and all encompassing. Our culture may be in that ‘want’ position, but it’s unrealistic, unhelpful, untruthful, unfulfilling and just does not work.
I am reminded of the story of the old farmer, with a horse and cart riding through the country lanes with his dog by his side and a load of hay on the back. A sports car came around a bed far too fast and crashed into the old farmer causing considerable damage an loss. Eventually the farmer and the driver had their day in court and of course the farmer was trying to get compensation for his loss; on the other side the defence for the insurance company were trying to settle for as little as possible.