reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Friday, May 02, 2008

Under-rated spirituality

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
Challenging stuff at house group last night.

We began with a discussion about how different we look to the people around us. Not very, was the answer - because our motivations which are often different are often not able to be seen.

Then we looked at 1 Peter - aliens and strangers in the world. And there is one major mark of Christian spirituality that makes us different to the world around us: submission. Even the section for husbands, which is about wives submitting is basically saying - make her more important than yourself. Which is a similar thing to submission - just worked out a bit differently.

Now, I would not have chosen that as a way to impact society for the Gospel. Submission. Particularly, when it comes to working relationships, submitting to being treated unfairly. I was rubbish at that when I was in the workplace, and complained loudly when I thought I had been unfairly treated. And who can deny that, had I submitted to unfair treatment, I would have looked hugely different to the culture around me?

I guess the passage leaves me with lots of questions: when is it right to submit, and when is it right to stand up for your rights? Is it possible to do both - stand up for the right to preach the Gospel but in a submissive way? Where does this leave Christianity and politics and fighting against injustice, which is so much the trendy label of Christian spirituality today? Yet, 1 Peter seems to say Jesus shaped spirituality puts up with injustice and submits. I'm not sure what I make of that.

But one thing is clear. To be an alien, a stranger, a sojourner in the world means to be the least likely person to react to being treated unfairly. There may be a Biblical mandate for defending victims of injustice, but there is not one for kicking against being treated unfairly yourself. The fact is that the culture, which I have bought into, is likely to make me happy to live with injustice to others and get really angry about personal unfairness to me. Biblical spirituality is the opposite - and would certainly mark me out as a stranger round here.


Blogger Levi said...

It is a pretty crazy topic; I was looking at a similar issue a while ago, whilst working through Romans chapter 13 where Christians are commanded to 'be subject to all earthly authorities'. I wondered what this looked like and so turned to Acts to see how the early church responded to unfair actions against them. In brief my conclusion was that they acted with 'submissive disobedience': that is they ignored commands to be quiet (4:18) and when they were, unfairly, arrested and beaten for speaking about Jesus they accepted it without a fuss (5:40-41) and then kept telling folk about Jesus (5:42). So that's what I reckon we should be like: obey God rather than man and then rejoice when we get unfairly treated for doing so.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous MG said...

Something in your post sparked a long lost thought. You mention the dilemma of not knowing when to stand up for your rights... but what makes us think we have rights in the first place? Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a man who knew something about suffering for being a Christian) says that the Christian has no rights.
Now whether the 'rights' that you and Bonhoeffer are referring to are the same I do not know. But perhaps there is a solution there somewhere?
Levi: love the phrase 'submissive disobedience'... that one will stay with me!

3:31 AM  

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