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Posts Tagged ‘Christian values’

Reflection – After the Call

August 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Many Christians are familiar with the veracity of a ‘Call of God’, and although this idea may be interpreted sometimes differently by the various wings of the church, most groupings would view it as a bona-fide spiritual experience; albeit one that requires further checks by wise and mature confidantes. I myself would say that I have experienced such a phenomenon.

What’s harder to deal with is the prospect of failure when following such a call. Fear can so often remain as a continuing reality. It feels that there is still the possibility of being laid low or being set aside.

Yet we remain open to God. He is the Lord. He is committed to His call. So too must we be. We continue to be confident in God even when our path seems blocked. Sometimes we receive glimpses of the way ahead, only to be frustrated and cast down again.

The solution in such times is a resolute trust in God.

Chiesa di San Francesco, Alghero, Sardinia - window

Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Psalm 43: 3-5 are key to this:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.

Send out your light and your truth;

    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (ESV)

There is always the danger of looking other than to God for our solutions. It’s quite a natural reaction – and therein lies the problem and the point. It’s natural, not spiritual. True trust occurs deep within our spirit: ‘Has God said?’ We can soulfully answer, ‘emphatically yes’. Such clear and certain knowledge is crucial to our ‘resting’ in His sovereign call. If God is for me, who can be against me? (Note my emphases).

Sometimes the call of God is to oblivion in the eyes of the world. Even the Church aspires to the cult of personality and lifts its heroes high – pastors, musicians, evangelists, music leaders, organisations et al. It wrongly equates calling and vocation with worldly success and influence. These are not Kingdom values but just more of the world inside the church. Care needs to be exercised as such occurrences can be insidious and appear perfectly fine at the time. They are not – and they will be found sadly wanting in due course. Even very recent church history shows us this quite clearly.

Those of us blessed with a sense of a divine calling must show great care. Ours is a holy calling and one not to be taken lightly, even when the way ahead seems dark, confused and unclear to us. I’m reminded that Romans 11:29 says,

’For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable’

And in I Corinthians 1: 25-27,

‘For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong’.

This Scripture is quite clear – to give it Richard Rohr’s expression – ‘the upside-downness’ of the spiritual life and its values. The juxtaposition seems contrary to everything we aspire to and is very hard for us to accept, let alone practise – but live it this way we must.

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Opinion – UK General Election; Faithworks Statement

April 21, 2010 1 comment

I am indebted to my good friend, Phil Groom for looking incisively – as he usually does – at the Westminster 2010 Declaration. Clearly, as Phil indicates, there is concern amongst other Christians regarding the wording and general thrust of the said Declaration. Good debate is always healthy and I for one have enjoyed reading and appreciating the various arguments.

For my part, I continue to find the Westminster 2010 Declaration useful as I tend to take its general points at face value. I regard it as helpful in terms of highlighting more widely the growing concerns about the continuing assault on Christian values and rights in this country – perceived or otherwise.

There are always two sides to every story. So – for the sake of balance – here is the Faithworks Statement that Phil has mentioned;

Faithworks believes that participation in democracy is crucial, and welcomes initiatives that facilitate this.  However Faithworks will not be signing the Westminster Declaration, as it suggests that government should be chosen according to their responses to only three issues – protection of human life, marriage and conscience – rather than the impact of the spectrum of their policies locally, nationally and internationally.    Faithworks rejects the implicit suggestion that a government who protects embryos, upholds the uniqueness of heterosexual marriage and protects freedom to express Christian beliefs is the government Christians should vote for without first examining their stance and policies regarding education, health care, welfare, poverty reduction, international development and the commitment of the local MP to the community he / she serves.  Faithworks represents 22,000 Christians from a variety of theological and political backgrounds, our theology is inclusive and not imposing, and our purpose is to encourage people to express their faith through serving others without discrimination.  In contrast, the Westminster 2010 Declaration sets Christians up on a moral high ground and implicitly creates divisiveness. It does this at just the time when the church’s morality has been called into question across the world.     

I have a great deal of respect for Steve Chalke and for the amazing work that he does through so many of his organisations around the world. For that reason, I am a torn between the two positions. There is much truth in both statements.

Perhaps someone should try to put the two statements together and reach a Declaration that all Christians can sign up too with good conscience? Maybe I’m just being an idealist and perhaps that is simply impossible. What do you think?

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