This is my last post for a while as I relocate to another part of the UK. I’ll start writing again in a few weeks time with the benefit of some time to consider WindingQuest’s purpose and content so far. Any thoughts or reflections on the content so far would be welcome.
I concluded it with a series of convictions about what it means to be a Christian:
- We need to seek God. Rowan Williams, shortly before he took up his post as Archbishop of Canterbury, was asked what he was praying for the Church. He expressed the hope that Christians would be able to set on fire the imagination of our society with a vision of God the Holy Trinity. This will not happen unless, like the psalmist, our deepest desire is to know God (Psalm 63:1-5). We have reduced our idea of believing to having a number of ideas about God. The original meaning of the word is to give our heart to the object of our belief. So to believe in God is to move into a relationship with God. One that will give energy to the task of exploring our faith with others.
- We need to be completely honest about our struggles and questioning. Jesus surrounded himself with such people; so much so that the writer of John’s gospel constructed the core of his text around characters who were puzzled by faith and finding it difficult to cope. Smooth-browed Christian blandness is not just a turn-off it is deceitful.
- We need to live anything we say we believe. Jesus constantly expressed disappointment and frustration with hypocritical people. Why believe something that isn’t making a difference to the way we act? I once asked a friend what difference his conviction that he had eternal life was making to his daily life. He told me none at all. Another friend who is not a Christian was listening to our conversation. His response was pointed. ‘You Christians expect guys like me to go through the hoops to get to your god and then you tell me it’s not making no difference …..’.
- We need to be able to proclaim the Gospel as if we were in the presence of any dying child whether it be due to war, famine or persecution. I choose a child because I believe the plight of such children can still turn the hearts of our cynical Western culture. This means we must explore the mystery of the suffering of God and let the good news of his love emerge from the pain of the cross. The context of the Sermon on the Mount reveals the crowds who heard Jesus speak were firstly coming to him for healing. Within sight and sound of their distress what he said had to ring true. This is not necessarily a popular thing to do. Too many in our culture give in to a crass indifference to issues of justice apart from the occasional sponsored event. People of the Gospel cannot do this. The cross is the road into the heart of God and there we must go and proclaim both vulnerability and redemption.
- We need to recognise that the Gospel is an explicit challenge to all earthly authority. The Lordship of Christ has political and economic implications. We cannot shy away from these. It is a hard thing to do. It is said that we are trapped in a Constantinian mindset where we equate our culture and national identity with being Christian. To be British is to be Christian. This is no longer the case. Christian influence is at best patchy but certainly no longer dominant in our society. This is both a burden and opportunity.
Reading these convictions afresh I think I might change some of the language. I also wonder how true I have been to those convictions in the years since.
You do not need to write a book to consider the convictions by which you live. It’s something to do every now and then.
It’s an exercise which I recommend to anyone trying to review their pattern and process through life.