Dad recommended a book to me recently that really captures so much of what I think we're aiming for here.
I thought I'd pick a couple of ideas out of what I've read so far as food for thought for our catch up this Saturday (the book is called Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality by Richard Rohr for those who are interested).
We need more transformed people, not more informed people
Christianity misses the point so often - the Bible is meant to be the living word of God and we are meant to be a living witness and a living people who share a living faith as we serve the living God.
Instead we act as if the christian faith is something that can be learnt and so we try to teach it to people - and in the process we offer ideas, concepts, and systems of thought.
- We aren't supposed to learn about God.
- We are supposed to know him.
But if we focus on the learning, it's possible to miss the relationship (I've learnt quite a lot about the world's famous rock musicians, but I haven't gotten to know any of them).
This ends up creating a religion where those who know the most become the most important and others of us disqualify ourselves because of our lack of education.
When that happens its a sure sign we're in the world of ideas, not relationships.
(When someone asks you to describe what one of your friends are like, you never indicate you can't really answer because you don't have any formal qualifications - you know the person, that's enough! It's meant to be the same with God).
So, we aren't all qualified to lead or start a church of ideas - there's plenty of smarter more qualified people out there with more ideas than us.
But each of you have encountered God - you may not have as much of him in your life as often as you like, but the Holy Spirit is with you and those experiences have left his mark on you.
That's plenty qualification to help encourage others to meet this God and take up the wonderful challenge of working out their relationship with him and come to know his heart for this world. That's the kingdom - not a bunch of ideas.
We can all do this!
We have made the Bible into a bunch of ideas - about which we can be right or wrong - rather than an invitation to a new set of eyes
I loved this statement.
It's not about having the correct interpretation of scripture - it's about allowing the light of scripture to help you see properly...see God, see life, see yourself, see each other.
Unless we repent and are born again we cannot 'see' the kingdom.
The gospel and the kingdom it proclaims can't be taught or understood by human power...they have to be revealed. Once they are revealed we can begin the journey of growing in our understand but we can't apprehend them ourselves.
It is a gift and it must be revealed to us.
As we serve the community around us, and as we meet the people God sends across our path in our daily lives, our question isn't how do we convert them to our religion but rather how do we position them for revelation?
- How do I serve you in a way that helps remove barriers and brings you closer to being able to see his revelation?
- Doing that requires me to love you more than my ideas and interpretations.
- It also requires me to resist my tendency to try and control what you think (because deep down we tend to think that of course my way is the correct way, and all would be fine if you just agree with me!).
- To really love people we must let go of our desires and ambitions for them.
It's not apathy though - sometimes I need to push you and sometimes I need to be pushed by you.
But when we do push it needs to be because he is leading us and the push is designed to help you get past things that trap you - not because I am tired or frustrated and want you to hurry up.
God always and forever comes as one who is totally hidden and yet perfectly revealed in the same moment or event. It is never forced on you, and you do not have to see it if you don't want to.
God comes to us disguised as our life.
I loved these ideas. God is right here - he has been fully revealed, and Jesus promised we will find if we seek.
But he is in our life not our religion. We need to learn how to look for him there - once you see it though it's way more exciting and more relevant. We can change our community with this!
Our temptation now and always is not to trust in God but to trust in our faith tradition of trusting in God.
We often place our faith in the particular tradition we ascribe to and the saints and theologians who have gone before.
God is waiting in your life now - he has hidden his kingdom there and he is waiting for you to see it so he can then plant you in other people's lives.
We have the power to be such enormous - and almost effortless - catalysts for change.
Let me invite you into a really different kind of journey together.
Let's invite the community around us into it with us.
It's something we are all qualified for !!