Saturday, May 14, 2005

church un-spun

I was talking to Pete Ward yesterday and he was telling me about a woman who has done some research on spirituality in Kendal in the Lake District..looking at church life/growth and the growth of alternative spiritualities. one interesting thing that came out of it was that when she was talking to yoga practitioners, reiki healers etc. etc. they were all keen to make sure that their name was included in the report. however, when she was talking to people in the church they were really concerned about anonymity ("you ain't seen me, right?"). this led to an interesting conversation about a culture of secrecy and perhaps fear in our churches, where people are afraid to challenge or critique what they see for fear of being labelled a troublemaker or 'speaking out against the Lord's anointed'.
i heard RT Kendall speak the other day (back to the old school!) at the New Wine Leaders conference. it totally wasn't my culture at all but it was interesting in a number of ways. in the last session he spoke about 'total forgiveness' from the life of Joseph. and he was saying that one of the ways that you know that you have forgiven someone is that you never tell anyone what they have done to you (he thought it was allowable to tell ONE other person for therepeutic reasons) other words to 'cover their shame'. he talked about our desire to tell others what has been done to us being a strategy we employ to try to turn others against the person who has wronged us.
a lot of what he said made sense but there is still part of me that thinks that if we aren't careful we end up colluding with this culture of spin where we have to maintain the myth that everything in the garden is lovely. do we keep our hearts right, be generous, kind, and forgiving, yet at the same time work towards having transparent communities of faith?

1 comment:

Jim said...

Hey Matt... I read this blog some time ago, and wanted to think a bit more before writing a response.

In the time since (about 2 weeks) I have been reminded of the time Brian Mc. came to hOME and talked about Justice and Mercy.

Fundamentally I think the same is true here. By which I mean this - Imagine if my Mum was murdered in the street by a violent drug addict, and I knew who this person was because I volunteered in a homeless shelter.

I believe I have two fundamental duties that Jesus calls me to:

1. Forgiveness - Must forgive the bloke who did it, perhaps even befriend?

2. Justice - I can, and must, forgive him. But if I know who it was I would be complient in the potential murder of someone else?

Anyway that was a pretty extreme example.

But... I think you can get my point. We must hold forgiveness and justice in the same hand. We will not be thanked for it in the short-term, those who we hold to account will accuse us (perhaps rightly) of unforgivness and most importantly the process we follow to hold someone to justice, must also be Christ-like.

Holding forgivess and justice in the same hand and remaining true to our calling, is, I think, much harder than we realise. But for as long as the likes of you and I don't even try - then we can, and must, accept that we are not living out the gospel of Jesus.