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.
Help me why is it so?
Talking to my friends in the USA who know these things, and also to people in the UK parliament they tell me that the rudest letters, the most vitriolic complaints almost always come from those who say they are Christians. Why is that so?
Talking with a Christian Journalist friend, he tells me that the worst letters of complaint the most condemning and nastiest come to him from Christian readers, why is that so?
I know that when people find their way to Jesus, they are often not nice people, usually they know that and that is why they come to Christ for help, for change, for a new right life. I have often had people say to me you need to love me as I am God does, my often thought with such people is, that’s very hard because you are horrible, you are just not nice.
I do know that God loves us as we are, there would be no hope, or grace if He did not as a Muslim friend once said to me, if God does not show us Grace there is no hope for any of us. However it is very clear that the plan for those who follow Jesus is that we should not remain as we are ‘Horrible’ if you will, but the plan is to change us, make us more and more like Jesus. So his values become our values.
I constantly find that people who call themselves ‘Christians’ do not seem to haves the values of Jesus and although they claim to be following him their actions really give me a problem. Yet I find some who make no claim to be a follower of Jesus, having values, actions, grace and concern for others in a Christ like way. They may even call themselves atheists or people without faith.
Even Paul had those who were Asiarchs in Ephesus who did not share the ‘Jesus-bit’ but were ardent defenders of him even when their own future status and comforts were greatly under threat.
A friend of mine said ‘The tension comes when we view evangelicals as ‘brothers and sisters’. I don’t think my discernment is simply cultural – I think I discern it in the Spirit. But working together with a number of them is all-but impossible, or, there is a small uncomfortable area where we can work together. Then, with those who are not believers, I do not discern that bond, but find where they share the values of Jesus we can go a long way forward.’
Let me tell you a personal story, I was part of a church group, working with them I bought a house they provided the deposit however from then on I paid all cost mortgage, repairs everything. Then they fell out with me; silly me had put the whole property in the name of the group, it seemed spiritual at the time!
It did not seem so good when they issued an order ejecting me from the property, a life on the streets with wife and three young children did not seem a good idea. Fortunately God was there and I was able to buy back the property I had paid for, at a very inflated cost, my ‘brothers and sisters in Christ making a goodly profit out of my distress.
So reason for this story, well at the same time as all this happened I had entered into a seven year contract to rent a shop, we were about three years in. I read the contract carefully, should have done that when I signed it. I realised that I had signed away a lot and given the landlord great power over me. What to do,
I went to see them, one Muslim one Hindu owing the shop. I showed them my contract saying I realise you have lots of power to take me for everything. They both read it carefully, yes they said we have defiantly got you, however we are also in business, so we think we should be kind to you, you are released, and they ripped up the contract. I was happy but disappointed too; I was puzzle as to who was Christ like, who really were my brothers and sisters, who had the Jesus value.
So now can you help me understand? Maybe C.S. Lewis had it right in his last battle.
Emeth, one of Rishda’s men and a devout follower of Tash, insists on seeing his god. Rishda tries to dissuade him, but Emeth enters the stable, and the dead body of another soldier, who was stationed in the stable to murder the rebellious Narnians, is thrown out instead. Aslan invites him into His world, Emeth says he cannot come as he has never severed Aslan, always Tash, Aslan say all you did was for me even though you thought you were serving Tash.
Sitting down inside
Funny to see recently on Face Book the fact that Richard Dawkins is wondering if we need Christianity as it is not blowing people up, or saying that those that do not believe should be killed. Maybe he needs to take an even deeper look.
What really puzzles me Is why people think that a forced acceptance of something, means that I or anyone else has really accepted that premise, belief, thought. What a silly idea.
It also puzzles me that people think that if you are not allowed to speak something different to their point of view, their perspective then that is fine, they must be right, again what nonsense.
Yet this is our world, people have views that I don’t agree with, lifestyles that I think are wrong, attitudes that I think that if followed by lots of people will lead to their destruction and sometime the destruction of lots of others too, however I am not allowed to say opposite to what is the P.C. position, my view must not be heard? Now does that mean that the argument, position, life style of the others is so wrong that they cannot bear to hear anything opposite to what they have chosen right or wrong?
I joined a political party once, just to go along to the meetings and understand how they thought and how it worked. I tried to sit at the back and keep quite. One day they announced that they had made a terrible mistake, they had invited someone to speak to the meeting, and discovered he was a member of another party. They said obviously they could not listen to him. I being very naïve asked a question, this was my question, “Why are you afraid to listen to another point of view or perspective, is our own position, argument, perspective, so weak that we cannot possible listen to someone we might disagree with and disagreeing with him come to understand our position, thoughts are after all are better? He is not from our party was the answer! “yes but does that mean we cannot hear what he has to say”? The answer again, “you don’t understand, he is not a member of our party and so he will say what we don’t agree with so we can’t hear that”? I gave up!
So we live in a world where people are being killed because they disagree, don’t believe what you believe cannot possible hear even a view that is different from the party line. So this year in Brunei, Somalia, Tajikistan all banned Christmas celebrations as it might damage the thinking of the rest of the population apparently it was because of fear that people would be led astray. I wonder how weak the thinking of those people is?
I remember one of those stories, apparently a little boy was would not sit down at the meal table, he was only small and insisted on standing to eat, I think his opinion was that the food went down better that way. His Father got really upset and kept trying to make him sit down remonstrating with him with many words. The little boy refused, in the end the Father got fed up with discussion and arguments, and putting his hand on the little boys head pushed the little boy down until he was sitting. The little boy looked at his Father and recognised that he definitely was stronger than him, but then he said, “Dad, I know that you have got me sitting down at this table, but I want you to know I am actually standing up inside!
There is a lot of us around that are actually standing up inside!
I don’t usually write anything about Politics, but the recent elections at which I did vote, seem to me to be setting a trend that require lots of us who, maybe think differently, to say something.
An Iraqi friend of mine recently said to me, maybe there is a problem with democracy in that stupid people get to vote; perhaps we should have an exam before people are given the franchise?
Recently listening to the debate in a ladies’ hairdressers, waiting for my wife, who had just commented on the problems for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, I was staggered to discover from about 10 plus people there, she was the only one who knew that girls had been kidnapped. They moved on in conversation to various other world shattering events, but it seemed to me that my wife was the only one who had a TV that showed any news programmes. The world affairs, local and national politics seemed at such a low level of interest to them I wanted to scream argh…
It isn’t that this stuff isn’t out there it is, but as most of the main three political parties are saying the message has not got through, perhaps that is because they shy away from the real facts to try and be popular to those who don’t listen to them anyway.
Why Christian Education
Why Christian Education
We need to remember that Education was originally not a state or secular idea but rather one that those who are followers of Jesus thought of. The invention of the so called Sunday school (1736 to 1811) was by Robert Rakes whose statute stands in such places as Victoria Embankment in London, Gloucester Town Centre and Queens Park Toronto On. Canada.
I say so called Sunday school because this was not as we often think of it today. What Robert Rakes was really doing was seeking to educate young people to read and write and do maths, and because Sunday was the only day that children in those days did not work it was, of course, called Sunday school.
By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain were teaching weekly 1,250,000 children, approximately 25 per cent of the population. One need to remember that there was at this time no such thing as ‘state education’ the gradual take over by the state probably began