Back again- I gave up the blog for Lent (very restrained of me I thought- ) then couldn`t remember how to post- then couldn`t find time… excuses, excuses. Any way- latest musing below.
I sometimes get the impression that one of the biggest crimes you can commit these days is to try to tell someone how to live their life. And fair enough, it`s good and important to respect peoples` freedom. However, it does seem to me that when it comes to our faith there`s something non-negotiable about this. I mean, at the heart of the Christian message is the notion that there is actually a better way of being human. There is a better way of being a world. So telling people how to live, as it were, goes with the territory. To become a disciple- a follower of Christ- is to allow a sort of transformation to take place. It`s rather like coming `under new management`. It means learning to live in the light of the truth that God IS God. Jesus sums up this teaching in the words `the Kingdom of God`. Put simply this means `God Rules OK`. To acknowledge this is to know the truth. To live in the light of this is to receive what Jesus called `fullness of life`. However, to make the claim that God reigns and that this is his world, of course, is to run the risk of being ridiculed. I mean, just look around you, people will say. Just look at the state of the world. Just look at our lives- just look at the Church! On the face of it there doesn`t seem much convincing evidence of the presence of this Kingdom. And of course, Jesus recognised this. He knew that not everyone could see it; the truth didn`t touch every heart he didn`t flinch from proclaiming its reality and from calling us to do the same. And he tried to capture our imagination by telling stories which, for example, compare the Kingdom to seeds growing secretly. The resulting plant bearing no resemblance at all to the rather unpromising beginning. In other words, Jesus calls us to pray for the coming or should we say `revealing` of the Kingdom and not to be put off by appearances. He persists in telling us to pray `Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven`. Why? Because this is where the work of transformation begins- you live what you pray. This is what Christian people have done from the beginning- and countless of them paid with their lives because the powers that be found their `way of life` a profound threat. Christians in our day are not subject to the same kind of mockery as them. And for this we should be thankful. However, it`s chastening to reflect that one of the reasons for this is that we have often turned the Christian message about `the kingdom` into something about `being good`. And we`ve blunted this message of the Kingdom by accepting the fallacy that religion and politics don`t mix; something our forebears would never have understood. But Jesus `message about the seed growing secretly still stands. He tells us again not to be fooled by appearances. The truth of God`s Kingdom takes root in surprising places and his vindication is assured. And as for the politics thing- well whenever I go to North Wales and visit its magnificent Castles I marvel at the political power which subdued that proud land. But then I compare them with the likes of one of my favourite Cathedrals- Durham. And I realise this huge and beautiful building is the equivalent of one of those castles. It is a symbol of how readily Christian people have sought to build our own Kingdom rather than wait on the Lord. We`ve assumed that the place to be was the Top Table; the place of influence and power. However, I wonder whether the current struggles between Church and State aren`t really a sign of God extracting us from this unworthy attempt to gain influence on the world`s terms and learn a better way of being Church. In the week in which Archbishop Rowan was appointed to Canterbury there was a rather caustic remark in the press by one of his fellow bishops no less. He said, `God save us from a holy Archbishop`. I realised then how far we have fallen. I can`t help thinking that the Church of the future will be much more a `movement` rather than an organisation. Somewhat `slimmed down` perhaps we`ll be more in tune with Christ`s picture of the seed and maybe we will be better for it. Maybe we`ll be able to demonstrate- as well as tell people -that there`s a better way of being human and a better way of being a world.