Living urgently, alertly and appropriately replete in the 21st Century has been the focus of this blog series so far. Thomas, Andy and Joshua have kindly helped us to honestly consider our Christian lifestyles, provoked by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and to what extent we’re living with urgency or lethargy, with alertness or sleepiness and with souls well-fed or deficient in even basic, Bible nutrition.
The Spiritually Comatose Church
Sardis Church was one of those churches which everyone knew was a ‘great church’. Its auditorium was packed, its worship services were humming, it was involved in loads of great stuff in the community, its statement of faith was sound, it was growing, it was a strong church… but then Jesus gave his verdict: “You are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev. 3:1-2)
I think Sardis would have been stunned by that diagnosis. In fact, all the surrounding churches would have been shocked as well. Surely not Sardis Church! Everyone knew that they were the alive church, the happening church, the buzzing church (Rev. 3:1). But Jesus says they are the spiritually comatose church. They have “soiled their clothes” – how’s that for an image!
What was the problem?
I appreciate the courage to rethink and examine the Christian faith as a response to the difficult (even distressing) loose ends that there can be for all of us in this life – like a kind of jazz music that ‘just doesn’t seem to resolve’ or sit pleasantly with us (any more).
But, without wanting to disappear down a rabbit hole by immersing myself in all the nooks and crannies that I’ve seen on Facebook lately, I’d like to just say one thing (in two halves) that, though likely to be disregarded as being too simplistic or naive, remain the absolute and inescapable centre of these multifaceted debates. This needs to be said because although these conversations are personal in origin, to some, they nevertheless manage to create very public ripple-effects in the lives of others when they’re broadcast:
a) The Christian faith is a biblical faith, i.e. it is unashamedly based on the written word of God, regardless of how you respond to it personally. Christianity never pretends to be anything other than utterly biblical and the serious study of the biblical text will show far fewer grey areas or ‘interpretation weaknesses’ than we might like to think. The problem is that we don’t study it seriously enough.
b) The Christian faith is also just that: faith. If the starting (and ongoing) point of Christianity becomes anything other than faith then it ceases to be biblical and, therefore, Christian. This is not to say that faith is incompatible with general enquiry or even a millennial type of examen, but it does mean that you can spend an eternity trying to ‘work stuff out’ to find the illusive musical resolve of the jazz, but it will never come without faith…faith is always required despite our varying urges to fight and even rage against this order of design.
Therefore, the Christian faith is not compatible with scratching the itch of needing to ‘know’ that something is real before ‘knowing’ it is true – in the sense of needing to ‘see before believing’ – in other words, the bible says you can ‘know’ THE truth by seeing but only via a sight that comes by faith.
Finally, it’s worth saying that examining the Christian faith can (and should) be done while still exercising faith…it is solidly robust enough to endure historical, philosophical and theological enquiry while still recognising that, at its core, is this mysterious but indispensable element called faith.
Christian FAITH – you may call it blind, childish or even ludicrous, but it will always remain the staple ingredient for any saving vision or relationship with Jesus Christ.
And He remains EVERYTHING
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:15
The Moon and the Stars
Can you remember the last time you were lying on your back outisde at night, looking up at the stars thinking about how very small you were and how vast and intimidating space was?
Looking up to the moon in the sky or the sun in the clouds or the endless extremities of star-filled galaxies will, for most of us, inspire a heightened sense of awe that will lead us to questions about who we are and what’s out there and is there any order or point of it all?
The problem is, most of us don’t recreate like this enough and when we do, quickly forget what we’ve been reminded of:
We’re tiny; we’re also fantastic.
So, instead of looking up to the realtive inanimation of the sky, why not look eighteen inches under your nose and think about the miracle that you carry around with you inside your chest every single day: the human heart. (more…)