reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why I love my employer...

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 3 comments
Well, it seems to be quite de rigeur to say all sorts of rude things about my employers on the old interweb at the moment. Fair enough I guess. However, reading one of said critics the other day ("in a post charmingly entitled "UCCF: a clanging cymbal") I feel moved to say something.

I LOVE UCCF! Well, you may say, you ARE UCCF, so that's hardly surprising. But what I mean is, I love the other people that make up the organisation I work for, and I want to share some reasons why. I'm going to say "they" not "we" partly so I look more modest, but also because I really am talking about the things I admire in the other people I work with and for.

They are grace people I didn't really understand grace until I worked for UCCF, despite being taught it verbally many times. Now I understand it because the people around me have put it into action.

They are not just simple gospel people What? Heresy! Nope, not really. UCCF, as we have seen, is an organisation that will fight tooth and nail for the Gospel, a but also a movement where I have learned more than anywhere else what it means to love God and serve him in all of life. There is no sense in UCCF that discipleship is about learning a Gospel outline and passing it on, unlike other models I have seen. Discipleship is thinking through what Jesus gracious Lordship means for every single area of life, throughtfully and deeply.

The are constantly self critical When I joined UCCF, my boss said to me "there's a way we do things round here, but it could be all wrong, so speak up while you are new, before you fall into our culture." I love that. UCCF is an organisation that asks for critique, and, in my experience is constantly and dynamically changing and refining because of what different people have to say.

They are risk-taking people Got a project that might work? Try it. Let's give it a go. Does it expand and assist student mission? Then it's worth a punt.

They are relational people That's what UCCF means to me really - friends. Instantly caring and loving people who are bothered about my work and life, and want me to be bothered about theirs.

They are people who drink from many streams That's the thing I love most about UCCF - the influence and stimulation from people from hugely different backgrounds and approaches within an agreed Gospel framework. Let's take good Bible handling, a high view of apologetics, a "whole-life" view of discipleship, a pleasure in God's glory, a high view of the Bible, a high view of the Spirit, a "conservative" love for expository teaching, a "charismatic" love for passionate worship, a free church emphasis on conversionism, an Anglican appreciation for covenant - let's have all of it! And no doubt some of the people who originate some of those things will think we're a bit dodge for appreciating the others: but we don't care. All truth is God's truth.

You know, call UCCF what you want - clanging cymbals or worse. But I, and many others, love it. I praise the Lord for the opportunity to serve God within it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why is church in black and white?

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 9 comments
Great session at Ch Ch with Steve last night (despite the presence of marauding pigeons) thinking about the view of spirituality presented by Velvet Elvis and Blue Like Jazz.

The verdict: we didn't like it. Although we think that they have very useful things to say, doctrine is not formed out of a conversation with ourselves, our stories or our culture. In fact, as Steve helpfully pointed out, doctrine is the far more exciting revelation of God's story and the call for us to join in and be part of that.

The question though: why are so many of the things that Bell, Miller et al say true about our churches? Where is the emotion and engagement? Where is the sense that we are operating in "full colour" in church, in the same way we do in the rest of life? Good questions, and ones we need to face up to.

2 punts at answers:
1) Sometimes, and I get the overwhelming impression that this is true of most reformed churches I have visited, I don't really want to experience the emotions that the truth is calling me to. I don't want to enter into God's anguish in Hosea 11, the valley of death in Psalm 23, the frustration of false doctrine in Galatians. It's easier not to. To be honest, church is a lot more straightforward when it's in black and white, and a lot more easy to deal with on a Sunday morning.

2) The second thing is that I don't really let church people into the full colour version of my life, and my sense is that they don't often let me in either. When did I last honestly answer the question "how are you?" When did I come clean about what a sinner I am to my church family? Much more likely I smiled, covered up my need for help, and went on my way. Easier for me and them that way - but ultimately black and white.

I guess that's not the whole issue - but it is part of the way there. The answer isn't to try and bring full colour into what was always meant to be black and white - the story God has revealed, but somehow, me and the raggedy bunch of people I call church need to find a way to experience the story in glorious technicolour. We can only do it together.

What a great night...

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 2 comments

I love going clubbing wiv ma church homies. Big Up. Let's do it again soon.

PS - this is actually va spiritual - a "field trip" to put into practice all I have been learning about the goodness of God's creation from Proverbs. Actually.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The PS debate, things to reflect on:

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 0 comments
I guess it's always been my experience in life that when someone criticises you, you want to defend yourself.

So you do.

But after a little time, you can see that, even if they were being very unfair there was maybe a grain of truth in what they said. And maybe it's like that with what people say about penal substitution.

To say that we believe in cosmic child abuse is a cruel, nasty unpleasant and vitriolic thing to say. We need to defend ourselves against that accusation. We don't believe in that.

But Chalkey and lots of other people I have come across who don't like PSA, the reason for their criticism of the doctrine is (they say) because of the people who teach PSA. Those people don't love well, according to the criticism. They don't love each other or the world well. They don't seek the good of those around them. And that's because, according to the critics, they believe that God hates the world; God feels violently towards the world, and it's only sweet little innocent Jesus who stands in the way of us being smashed by God's uncontrollable violent feelings towards us.

Well, we've managed to (or at least some people have like these peopledefend the doctrine theologically) to show that we do believe God loves the world, and that's why PS is so important.

But has the Chalkemeister got a point about our actions? I think he might do. Most of the Christians I know spend most of their time with...Christians. Me included. Which doesn't model brilliantly that God loves the world. Most of them, and by them I mean us, spend the time we are with Christians complaining about each other and allowing the way they do things to wind us up. When they, and really I mean we, engage with the world, maybe we often are all about winning converts, rather than loving the world like God does. Maybe we do, as I was challenged about in church yesterday, think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, rather than thinking that the point of the cross and PS is so that God can start reinvading the world with his glory, recreating it through the church. Through me. Through us.

Steve Chalke and your friends, wrong diagnosis, but good one for spotting the symptoms.

Thing is, it's a deep belief in PS that makes me think this stuff is important, if I really let it sink in to me. There is my God taking on himself the result of my sin, the result of the world's sin. How he must love the world. There he is humbling himself to the weakest and lowliest place for our sake. How he must care about the weak and lowly. There he is making a statement that justice must be done, that sin must be identified as sin, that the victoms of sin, caught up in it by their own guilt should be shown compassion. How he must love justice and long to see compassion.

You know, I can't speak for anyone else. But when I think about me, I think that maybe those PSA critics, wrong as they are about theology, might be right that there is some sickness in my spiritual life. Even after PS is, rightly, defended to the hilt, maybe there's still some things to think about.