reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Friday, February 16, 2007

A week of reading...

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 3 comments
...which possibly isn't the most exciting blog title ever: but there you go.

Several projects I have on the go at the moment have me reading and trying to understand 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians and stuff on how the doctrine of creation calls us to develop a Christian mind.

It's all been very interesting: particularly how Paul's assertions against "wisdom" in 1 Corinthians 1 (and the theology that says the cross doesn't make sense to the world) fits in with the call to out-think the world we live in, in this book: Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. She is someone who confesses that she was "argued" into Christianity by people who intellectually convinced her. Hmmm, how does that work?

Well, I haven't found an answer yet, but I have 2 lines of thinking.
1) A very helpful conversation with Jason Clarke on Tuesday opened my eyes to the truth that what is wise all depends where you are standing. So the cross is foolishness to the world because it doesn't humbly accept the truths that make the cross necessary: sin, God's holiness and grace, the need for redemption etc. In the same way as something can look nonsensical when you JUST look at it alone, but makes sense when you see the whole picture, so the cross is ultimately wise, it does ultimately make sense of the world, but only when you humbly accept some truths about God and yourself. Thus the cross confounds the wisdom of the world (the world could never think it's way to it), but is the only real wisdom that makes sense of the world we live in.
2) Even Nancy Pearcey says that her being intellectually convinced was an act of God humbling her. So having her eyes opened to the truth that she couldn't function in an intellectually satsifying way without Jesus involved her falling down and admitting she needed God and couldn't do it alone. So it IS still God saying "you can't think your way to a solution without me", humbling the proud through showing them that only trusting him allows the world to be as it should be. "The foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom." Indeed.

Personally, it's been challenging to not faff around, but work hard! It's also been hard to see again in 1 Timothy what God commands of the leaders of his people and repent where I don't match up. Lots to think and pray about.

Friday, February 09, 2007

"Serving the local church..."

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 10 comments
There's an argument around that goes a bit like this:

Q:"What should I do if I want to take a year out after graduation?"
A: "Work for a church. God works through the local church, so that's what you'd do if you were really wanting to see God work"
Q:" What about other excellent schemes, like ones run by dashing young Irishmen who love the colour orange?"
A: "They are for people who aren't really committed to the local church. But I know you are a godly Christian and so will want to do the local church thing".

Dashing young Irishman: " I'm flummoxed. Also, what type of names begin with the letter Q?"

Now, the dashing young Irishman is no longer flummoxed. As someone pointed out, sometimes people show their commitment to the local church by taking a ministry job outside the local church. A nice friend recently showed me that my personal commitment to the local church, to loving it, strengthening it and being committed to it as the Bride of Christ is much more effectively played out by doing what I am doing training, teaching and administrating outside my local church than it would be if I worked for it. Same is true of Archbishop Peter Jensen, of missionary Hudson Taylor and my friend Chris who works for IFES in Belgium. It's because these people love/d the local church that they didn't settle down in one local congregation and work for it - they saw an opportunity to resource and support and help the church by working outside it.

So, don't fall for the lie that working for a local church is intrinsically more godly. Make the decision that will help you, with the person you are and the gifts you have got, serve the church, by working for it or not working for it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blood Diamond and Malachi

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 1 comments
On Wednesday night I went to see this. Now, let me be frank - I didn't really like it. I generally don't like being preached at by films, and not only that, but this one, while making a worthwhile point, turned on the most ridiculously unlikely "bad person turns good and makes sacrifice" plot sequence I have ever seen.

However, I do generally find that films like this which graphically show us people doing terrible things to each other make me have existential crises of a sort. How CAN God let evil terrorist groups seeking their own wealth chop children's arms off to make their political point? How CAN people be that evil, and we still claim God is sovereign over it? I guess I'd be a rubbish Christian (or, an even more rubbish Christian) in a war zone.

Interestingly the day after (after, if I'm honest, not sleeping very well thinking about children being deliberately maimed in wars) I beetled off to Wales to do a team day on Malachi.

Now, Malachi is all about people who are going through the motions of being God's people but not with their whole hearts, and so God is pretty angry.
As you go through the book it appears one of the reasons that they are like that is because they don't believe that God is against the wicked. The evil prosper. Which is one of the reasons that I guess I'd doubt God a lot more if I had to witness real obvious evil outside of my middle class cocoon.
What's interesting about Malachi is that having those questions under the surface and allowing them to filter the way you serve God is disastrous. Don't trust God's love and promises? You won't really want to serve God whole heartedly. Don't think God cares about justice and honesty? You won't be just or honest. Don' t think God can really be trusted to run the world? You won't entrust him with your money or life.

So how does God answer? Well, pretty complicatedly. But he says, I will judge and I will purify. Evil WILL be dealt with, by my purifying judging messenger. The cross, basically is all we can look at and hold on to to believe God really is committed to judging fairly. I suppose, post-cross, I have more reason to believe that even than Malachi's hearers, who hadn't seen God's demonstration of justice and probably saw worse atrocities in real life than I'll ever see on screen. But God says it is enough, in fact, to say otherwise is to be "harsh against him".

I guess I can't just let my worries about justice and my sick stomach at child soldiers round the world just bubble below the surface until they suck the life out of my service of God. I have to stake the heart of those questions with a big wooden cross, and be as committed to justice as God is. And trust him with the rest because he is God, and has proved that he will deal with sin by judging and purifying.

Blood Diamond insists, despite all the evidence in the film to the contrary, that bad people can turn good. I'd rather place my faith in God who has gone out of his way to prove his justice. I pray I can hold on to that cross, standing their, cutting history in two when I'm seeing it and experiencing it away from the cinema. It's hard though.