Monday, 21 March 2011

The god I don't believe in

I believe in god but...
I don't believe in a god in the traditional sort of way. That's just a social construct.
I don't believe in a god who makes moral requirements on my life. It's my life why should he care!
I don't believe in a god who allows such terrible things to happen. If he's out there this stuff must be beyond him.
I don't believe in a god who cares about what I think of him. Surely he should be above that?
I don't believe in a god who sends people to hell. Hell? I mean come on!
I don't believe in a god who lets rapists get away with it. He should step in there!
I don't believe in a god who lets children be abused. He shouldn't stand for that.
I don't believe in a god who'll just forgive anyone for anything, no matter what they've done. Anyone can be sorry but it doesn't make it o.k.

It's easy to think of the things you don't want to believe and then turn them into a list of things you don't believe but at the end of it the question you have to answer is what do you have left to believe in?

If all we simply do is state all the things we don't believe in we run the risk of never actually battling with the issues in order to work out what we do believe. Beware you don't assume that stating what you don't believe and why is the same as being able to justify what you do believe!

P.S. The views stated at the start of this blog certainly do not all represent what I don't believe (it was a rhetorical tool)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

21st Century Island Syndrome

The film 'About a boy' (which I like more than I should) begins with Hugh Grant telling us what rubbish the statement 'no man is an island' is because in our age now is the perfect time to be an island. The film goes on to suggest that he is wrong however, I reckon a lot of us still think he is right. What with computers, books, tv, sports etc sometimes being an Island can feel rather nice. It feels especially nice when you have been let down and hurt by people. As life goes on and we grow in our realisation that people are unreliable and often hard work it's often tempting to pull up the draw bridge and withdraw to our private island.

I see a whole host of people within the church who seem to have withdrawn from people. Perhaps they cross paths with other people occasionally but in terms of real, vibrant, honest, committed friendships they have given up on them. They view them as unimportant, not worth the effort and something they don't have time for.

To be like this is to rebel against God's purposes...

God's purpose in creation was to make something which was capable of real friendship with him. That something was us. We are designed for real friendship.

However, when man was alone (in a perfect world) there was still something not right in the world because God had created something in his own image which meant he had created something which needed real, strong and loving relationships.

Humanity messed that up so God came down to earth to redeem his people. Why did he do this? Well the whole purpose of this redemption was to rebuild these friendships. To make it possible for people to have a real and vibrant friendship with God and strong, loving friendships with each other.

To reject honest, genuine and loving friendships is actually not simply a question of choice but a rebellion against God's purposes in creating you and redeeming you. It is worrying to see how many Christians seem to have opted out of real friendships, for one reason or another, considering that it was in order for you to make real friendships that you were both created and redeemed.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Love Wins

Well following Rob Bell's video and the christian media storm which erupted I am aware that many people have been waiting with baited breath to see what the Parker line is. I mean they know where Piper stands but they just want to see where the other big guns stand before nailing their colours to the mast. So somewhat tardily I have decided (prompted by a tweet I read) to state my official line on the matter!

The triune God before time itself decided to create a universe as an overflow of the love they had always enjoyed. In a battle between inaction and love - Love wins

The people God created turn their back on him and start making something of a mess of the universe he created. However, God continues to be long suffering, patient and kind with them as he reveals himself to them and works to restrain evil and bring people back into relationship with him. In a battle between indifference and love - Love wins

Knowing full well mankind's inability to relate to him, each other or creation properly, God the Son becomes a man and suffers incredible hardship and difficulty as eventually he is crucified by the very people he came to rescue. Through this crucifixion forgiveness is made possible and through this a renewed relationship of love between people and God. In a battle between comfort and love - Love wins

One day God promises a new creation in which everybody relates to each other, and to God, in perfect love. God will not allow hate, suffering, and all kinds of evil to go unchecked and one day he will do away with them forever. Ultimately in the battle between sin and love - Love wins

So about this much at least Rob Bell is right - Love definitely wins!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Who decides who loves Jesus?

It has become popular to talk about Christians as people who love Jesus. This is a great definition of a Christian and it is not new. This is surely the definition Jesus gives when he talks about the importance of loving him more than anything else (Matthew 10v37-38). Christianity is not primarily about the things you do, the things you say or anything like that it is about a relationship of love with Jesus Christ.

However, today someone said to me how come such a person gets to decide who loves Jesus and who doesn't? You see if it's about loving Jesus then surely I am the only person who can say whether I do or not and everyone else should just get their nose out of other people's business. You see the idea behind this statement is a really popular one which states that as long as I love Jesus (by my own definition of love) then I'm o.k. and no-one can tell me that I am or am not a Christian. So what we end up with is a group of people who can say anything, do anything but still claim to be Christians because they love Jesus. What we end up with is a community whose only response to any teaching, lifestyle choices or anything is to say 'well they seem to love Jesus' or 'well as along as they love Jesus' or 'they seem to love Jesus more than these other people'

So Christianity has become about nothing. It's become about whether people say they love Jesus and whether they talk about Jesus in a loving way and nothing else.

So back to the original question. Who get's to decide who loves Jesus and who doesn't? Well let me suggest that Jesus does. What does he have to say about the matter? Let me quote but a few things he says on the matter?

1 - John 21v15-19 - When Jesus meets with Peter after the resurrection Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, Peter says yes and so Jesus tells him to 'feed my lambs/sheep'. Jesus here says that people who love him will feed his people.
This means that you can't lead people astray and love Jesus. You can't teach people things which leads them away from Jesus and still love him. So people who talk about loving Jesus but are teaching error can and should be confronted because what they are doing is not loving Jesus.

2 - John 14v23 - Jesus here clearly says that those who love him obey his teaching. This means that it is a contradiction to pursue a life of disobedience to Jesus whilst still claiming to love him. This means that disobedient acts can and should be confronted because what they are doing is not loving Jesus.

3 - 1 John 4v20-21 - Here John says that Jesus taught that it's impossible to claim that you love God if you don't love your brother. This means that it is impossible to say that 'I love Jesus I just don't love Christians/the church'. How can you love Jesus but not love the church he purchased with his blood? So this means that a disregard, indifference or hostility towards God's people is incompatible with love for Jesus. Therefore yet again this attitude towards Christians can and should be confronted because this is not loving Jesus.

That's just a few examples I'm sure there are more but my point is that although Christianity is about loving Jesus this should not make it the subjective wishy washy thing which it seems to have become with so many people and so many Christian communities!