Archive for the ‘theism’ Tag

NEHEMIAH AND THE GOSPEL

A couple of really interesting comments on the last post regarding the necessity of ‘giving the gospel’. I will get to responding! However, I want to start with Nehemiah. I am all over that book right now. I’m reading and studying it in my quiet times and listening to Driscoll preaching on it on my journeys to work. It’s just a great book for those of us who live in the city. It’s about a standard guy who sees his city broken, lost and desolate. The journey he takes is inspiring. First, he mourns and fasts over the city. Then he prays. Then he plans. Then he DOES something about it! He humbly approaches the authorities, he figures what he needs, he builds a team, he goes to the city, he speaks to the people, he REBUILDS THE CITY! And, when determined opponents mock, scorn, distract and threaten that work, he remains steadfast, unflinching and prayerful, his people working with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other – ready to defend the fruit of their labours if called upon. Nehemiah cared for the city. He wanted to transform it and so he set about doing so as a man of action. The city is the key strategic place to begin any great work – it has the most people, the most languages and the most influence – it dictates the culture, the media output and the politics of a nation.

I am proud to live in one of the world’s greatest cities and I’m proud to be part of a network of churches that is actively seeking to impact upon it by planting and by telling the good news. There is already some family pressure for us to opt out of the city in favour of suburbia’s sanitised comfort. However, I hope I long resist such temptation – in favour of real multi-culturalism, real community and proximity to real need… perhaps raising kids less sheltered, racist and fearful than the ones I teach! It’s in the city that the battle-lines are drawn and are visible!

People in the city do need our physical help – they need love as expressed by feeding the hungry and caring for the lost. We perhaps need to get better at that – we are a little too white, middle class and intellectual to provide much of a haven for the broken people of even Balham right now. It’s something I know several who frequent this site are very keen to address through initiating hands-on weekend community work imitating the Besom or Nehemiah Projects that already run in the area (and in which they are already involved) to care for those incapable of looking after their own homes and welfare. However, more so, we must be keen to give the gospel, as that is the thing Londoners need the most. It is not enough we be ‘good people’ in the eyes of others. Yes we must live the gospel, with love, in order that our message not be undermined but be strengthened by them seeing the practical love of Jesus in us. But we MUST also tell the gospel. Explicitly. It is up to those who hear and the will of the Spirit as to whether they respond, but they can’t respond to that which they haven’t heard!

And so too with our friends. If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that we are fragile and that life can be threatened or cut short at any time. Therefore I do believe we should push a little harder than Debbie and Simon are suggesting. If our friends can hear the gospel from us within a relationship, then brilliant. However, it makes sense that they also hear it from those teachers best trained to deliver it, at events tailor-made for such a thing. For without hearing the gospel – that is Christ crucified in the place of sinful man so we may be saved through faith in him and repentance of that which grieves him – they will assume merely that Christianity is a meritocracy… a code for ‘good people’ to earn their way through the Pearly Gates. The gospel changes things. I have had one person this week tell me ‘I don’t like it’ and one tell me ‘It’s not fair’. That doesn’t happen when you’re discussing creation v evolution. Or atheism v theism. The gospel provokes, challenges and demands a response to the work of Christ. We must live the gospel, but we must also tell the gospel.

PS A note on Driscoll. Yes I listen to him a lot and I am thoroughly inspired by him. However, neither do I follow him unquestioningly. I am very wary of how much he speaks every week about himself; his life, his church and his family; it really is at least half of every sermon (you only really realise how much when listening through a series in quick succession!). Such a self-referential style I do feel carries with it the danger of fostering a personality cult, plus which his tangents can be more memorable than his exegesis of the passage. But he does love the Bible and he’s presenting it to thousands via the gifts that God has given him and that he has had the courage to employ. So yes I’m a (cautious) fan!

IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK…

This is the news…

  • St Alban’s Cathedral has denounced the hot cross bun as ‘too commercial’, preferring the more ‘medieval’ and, by implication, more Christian, recipe.
  • The BNP has announced it is to use the image of Jesus in its advertising, identifying itself with the persecution the Son of God faced.
  • The RS curriculum in UK schools is to be expanded in order to reflect the equally valid faiths of Rastafarianism and Druidism, as well as examining the ‘Rise of atheism’.
  • Ministers in the UK vote against inserting some allowance for ‘free speech’ into the Bill outlawing the incitement of ‘gay hatred’. Many observers believe will now leave churches liable to prosecution if they preach that practising homosexuality is wrong or a sin.
  • The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission has suggested a cutting down of maternity leave in order that paternity leave be increased. After all, it is currently grossly unequal that the mother be given so much time with their newborn child…
  • The ‘old-fashioned’ Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali has stepped down following long-standing tensions with the Archbishop of Canterbury over the liberal direction of the church. An aide working for the church in Canterbury has called him an “arsehole”.
  • Meanwhile, the Archbishop himself, Dr Rowan Williams, has used his position to congratulate Muslims in the UK, in a week where he has also spoken out about the environment, bankers and knife crime. A search of his 6 press releases in March locate not one single mention of the word ‘Jesus’.
  • Your humble blogger wonders what on earth is going on in this world of ours and is unsurprised that 71% of the UK see religion as ‘unimportant’. He resolves to try and do his bit in order to ensure some measure of sense and truth continue to be spoken.

PS Your blogger this week missed church for no good reason for the first time in years. He instead spent 7 obsessive hours putting together his lecture for the Gifted & Talented Society at school. It concerned Arguments for the Existence of God – a topic he felt partially justified his tardiness. He got to school the next day to find the lecture had been cancelled. He is confused as to the moral of this story.

 

PPS The manic season is abating – real & meaty blogging is to resume imminently… beginning with a profound analysis of whether or not I’m a Calvinist!