I said last week, “There is no doubt, [we are seeing] a significant societal shift.” One person said, “Well, that would be an understatement.” Understatement or hysteria? We try and get the balance right. Then this week, despite grave concerns of the health industry, Victoria has passed assisted suicide legislation [though they don’t call it that].
I suggested we have some work to do in considering the place and role of the local church in these days.
The writer of Proverbs [Ch 27,28] provokes us to be confident in our faith [Pvb 28:1], to conserve energy [28:2], and to value and sacrifice to preserve a just community [28:5]. These are not suggestions; they are tools for wise living.
There are thousands of such pieces of wisdom in scripture. The bible teaches us primarily by highlighting human faithlessness, foolishness and failure against God’s love, compassion and wisdom in often difficult times.
I received a letter this week from a Christian brother who, I suggest, has been wrestling with how he should live in his community, in his denomination, before his family and the watching world.
I reproduce some of his letter with his permission:
“I am a Christian and I am finding that increasingly difficult to admit to that to acquaintances.
My family all accept my faith, but we don’t discuss it. In the face of child abuse charges against many clergy [from various denominations] – and the standing aside of a top Catholic man in Australia and top Anglican in Western Australia – I am finding it increasingly difficult to defend my christian commitment. On the “Yes”/“No” issue the WA Anglican Archbishop [elect] ‘reportedly’ said, ‘Personally, I support “yes”. From the church perspective I’d say “no”’. [Not very decisive christian leadership for little old me]. In the area where I live we have self confessed gay and lesbian rectors of Anglican churches.
I am fast reaching the decision:
continue to worship and lead a christian life
minimise my religious debates
set a good [christian] example to all my family …… and continue to be a disciple – a follower of God’s word!”
I found that so encouraging. That’s the way we do it. Simple but hard to do.
If I asked this person “How is God going to renew his creation through you?”, what you have read above is his answer, as he analyses the life he leads.
Jesus’ recommendation, recorded by Matthew [11:28-30] is, Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.