Monday, 26 March 2007

The Body of Christ

I've been doing some random thinking (for a change?) on one small area of the church, prompted by several conversations with friends and family and some recent experiences... Feel free to disagree with me, I'm not out to make anyone feel guilty! It's not particularly coherent, maybe you can help refine my ponderings?

When reading about the Body of Christ in the New Testament there appear to be two approaches. One that is more often communicated is that you are a member of the body, you have a special role to play, you should not be turned away, you should always be valued. It's an inclusive message that emphasises the role of the individual, the gifts and skills that God can use etc.

The other approach is the us perspective. We need you.

Fellowship is a two-way (in fact, three-way!) thing - going to 'church' because we want to meet with God and be blessed is only part of the story. Here's another part: We go to be a blessing. Absenting ourselves (due to late night, busy week, boring preacher, lacklustre worship...) harms the body.

I don't think many people - including Christian professionals - see it that way. Is it just that my understanding of 'church' is different? I know that a group of teenagers at YF, or young adults in a home, or a weekly prayer meeting, or whatever, is just as much 'church' as a group of all-ages from the local community meeting on a Sunday morning; but who should I call my home?

Whoever I call my 'home church' is the group I should not deprive of my presence wherever possible.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Grace in Abundance

I had the privilege of spending three days with the Church at HMP Maghaberry last week. And it was indeed a privilege. It would be hard for me to think of a finer group of gentlemen, keenly aware of their need for the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, walking in the knowledge that they are loved and moving in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Do not be surprised when some day you hear that revival has swept the cells of Maghaberry and is spreading to Northern Ireland and the world.

Friday, 9 March 2007

Theological Ambush

I know, how amazing, two posts in the one day! My brain must be beginning to wake up from the new-baby-experience!

Yesterday, I was theologically ambushed by the doctrine police. It was my first such experience (Jools is the normal target!), and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Leaving personalities and the actual topic aside for the moment, may I take this opportunity to plea for warmth and integrity in relationships when you feel you're right and I'm wrong?

As I get older I realise more and more that I don't know everything, and the things I do know may not always be right. So if I waver on a doctrine it's not because I'm unsound, it's because at the moment I'm not fully persuaded one way or the other. For someone to then procede to intentionally intellectually crush me in order to prove that they're right, do you think I am warmed to their perspective?

Do I say, "Because you demanded an answer without giving space to reflect, because you undermined me in front of friends, because you cast doubt on my belief-system, I shall now acquiesce and agree with you and believe everything you believe, as your way is far better"? If the way I was treated reflects the person's evangelism style I truly pity the people they witness to.

Now I have vented (and let me assure you that it was no-one in this fine educational establishment), the hard part comes. Forgiveness.

Time to Deliver

The votes are cast, the counting continues. Now it's time for our politicians in Northern Ireland to DELIVER.

We want peace, real peace, friendship with 'the other side', forgiveness and a shared future. I'm considering sending a letter to each of my MLAs, asking them to deliver a Northern Ireland known for its good politics. Would you do the same?

It's Time to Deliver.

ps This is permission for you to bug me until I've done it!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

You Know You Want To

If you can vote in Northern Ireland's Assembly Elections today, please do.

I have my own political opinions, I won't share them with you here today. But I do believe it's important to exercise the right to vote. And pray while you do it.

It might just be the fresh start we need.