Saturday, 24 July 2010

Being Married to Cal Lightman

I have recently been watching through the TV show 'Lie to me'. In this show the main guy (Cal Lightman) has studied micro-expressions (if such things exist) for years in order to be able to spot when someone is lying and the different emotions they display. As seems to be the want in programmes such as these he is separated from his wife and has relationship issues.

In one of the episodes his ex-wife turns up and they spar in an ex-husband and wife sort of way before she explains why the marriage didn't work. She said that she just wanted to be with someone who didn't know every time she was lying, every time she was even moderately attracted to another man and every different emotion she felt.

I guess most of can empathise with this thought. It would be terrible if someone knew every lie we told, every emotion we felt etc. This is, however, what the Bible says that God can do. It says that God knows everything about us (see this for example) and can as such see every lie, every selfish thought or act, every wicked intention or desire. The amazing thing about God when compared to Cal Lightman is not only that he knows more but that despite all this knowledge he still loves you. God sees it all but still was willing to die for you so that you could find that forgiveness.

The fact that the idea of someone knowing you completely terrifies you shows your need of forgiveness. However, it is by asking this very same person to forgive you that it become possible to find forgiveness and a hope that one day you won't feel so ashamed!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Freedom

O.K. so being horribly behind the times I didn't hear the world cup theme tune 'waving flag' until after the world cup had actually finished. However, having heard it I couldn't help but be intrigued. As a song it has a very upbeat and hopeful feel and is easy to memorise (I was struck by this when a kid in our church knew all the words). However, what I couldn't help thinking while I was listening was what a big part the hope of freedom played in the song. So it starts off talking about freedom and each chorus it says 'they'll call me freedom. Just like a waving flag'. I can't help but wonder why this idea of freedom plays such a big part in upbeat, aspirational songs.

Many of us would consider ourselves to be free and yet we still long for greater freedom. Why is this? I think it's because we all still feel like we cannot be the people we long to be. We may be free in many ways but when we look at our lives it seems like we still feel trapped by circumstances or natural constraints.
So I feel trapped by my inability to be the person I want to be.
I feel trapped by circumstances which require me to do certain things.
I feel trapped by my need of money and other resources.
I feel trapped by all my limitations.

We therefore all have this desire to be free. Jesus describes all people as slaves to sin and death this would seem to be supported by the fact we all do bad things, we all day and we all have this desire to be more free. However, Jesus also says that he is the person who can set us free.
It's easy to think that we are free and that Jesus wants to enslave us. However, this is to forget the sense of limitation and constraint we all feel in everyday life. The truth is that we are not free and that it is actually by finding forgiveness, a new heart and a new way of life that we can begin to see just how free Jesus makes us. As we recognise this we look forward to a new life of complete freedom, with Jesus either when we die or he returns.

I guess many people hope that throughout their life they will become more free but actually time and age are just as incapable of freeing us as we are ourselves. If like me you hope to become more free then you need to find someone with the power and inclination to free you from the limitations of our sin, a sinful world and death. Look at Jesus' life and you'll see that he not only has the power but also the will to do just this!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Unity and Secondary Issues

During the past couple of weeks we have been blessed by having a team of students from some northern universities come to serve in our church. It would be fair to say that although this has been busy it has been an incredible experience for me personally and, I hope, for the church as a whole. To see God working and people in Hartlepool engaging with truths they previously weren't engaging with has been fantastic.

However, through the process of looking through the book of Ephesians as Christians from different churches and different backgrounds the issue of being united despite theological or ecclesiastical differences became not simply an academic issue but a practical one.
Is it possible for Christians to hold different positions on secondary (non gospel) issues and still be united? I guess most Christians would say yes and this fortnight has certainly demonstrated that to be true.

However I guess a better question is 'Is it possible for one Christian to say that another Christian is wrong and still be united?' Following a long discussion last night I think that this must be possible. If not then I don't see how we can ensure that we are sitting under the Bible's authority. We want to be being moulded and changed by the Bible and so for a fellow Christian to say to me 'I think your wrong about this issue and this is biblically why I think it' shouldn't threaten me or cause disunity but should rather serve to help me to sit under the Bible's authority better whether I am convinced by his argument or not.

So how do Christians unite? Well I think the temptation is to boil Christianity down to the bare minimum (the deity and humanity of Christ, his death for our sins, the resurrection followed by a response of faith and repentance) and then say anything goes with the rest. But the Bible has more to say than that and we should have more to say too. Just saying that I believe the Bible says that this is a right approach to a secondary issue does not mean I have divided myself from people who hold a different position.
In my church there are a number of people who are Christians but have not been baptised. I think that these people are wrong because I think the Bible repeatedly calls on Christians to be baptised. So what do I do with this? Well I hold that position, I am not scared to voice it but as a church there is no lack of unity because of it because unity comes through Christ's work in us.

It is the job of both the person disagreeing and the person being disagreed with to not allow this to cause division because you both belong to Christ and so are united.