slave waver

10 02 2012

there was no apple

When the writers of the Bible talk about people in being in slavery to sin it all seems a bit, well, harsh. Slavery? How many of us would say we are enslaved to sin? The language calls to mind images of the devil binding us in chains or possessing us in some scary poltergeisty sort of way. We may prefer to think that we flirt with sin, we may clothe ourselves occasionally, because actually it is just a bit of fun. Isn’t sin more fun anyway? Better to be in slavery to sin that befriended by boredom? Read here about evil and sin actually being pretty dull and banal and boring.

I  had 2 conversations with people a while back that went something like this.


Me: Why did you assault my friend?
Person a: I had to defend my family.
Me: Perhaps that wasn’t the best way to react?
Person a: I can’t help it, it is how my family always react. It is in my genes. It is just the way I am.

Conversation 2:

Person b: why did you grass on my son?
Me: Because he was doing something dangerous and illegal.
Person b: We don‘t grass on estates. You want to be careful doing things like that round here.

My point is that neither of those men would say they are enslaved to sin; I would not say that to them either! But their reactions as grown men to situations around them come from a position of slavery. To the gene pool, to the domination system, to ‘the way things are’, the way that oppresses freely because that is how life is. I don’t say that as a value judgement on them. I honestly think they think they have no choice. They have seen no other way that works. As I wrote following the Faithworks Conference, that is exactly the kind of slavery that Jesus came to free us from.

It does not need to be that way. Our character need not be defined by our genes, our family and our upbringing, though they will always be part of who we are. Our character can be defined by the Holy Spirit living in us. The system of domination and fear that we live in and support by living in it does not need to define us. We can be defined by the kingdom of God not the kingdom of fear.

I pray for slave waver in our community. Where anger is replaced by patience, fear by love, fists by feasts. When teenagers talk about something other than sex and slagging each other and don’t need to get a rush from being (nearly) nicked; when men can  be real men instead of being something they think they ought to be and women can be themselves without fear of being judged or taken for granted or simply ignored.

My deepest longing is that this slave waver happens because people meet Jesus and by his Holy Spirit they are transformed and sanctified and other wonderfully big words and maybe I even mentioned being saved but… but… I kinda just want it to happen anyway whether or not they discover Jesus. Through our influence or through nothing to do with us. If slaves waver and the world gets better and looks more like the kingdom, I’m not so worried about why…

house of cards

17 07 2011

It’s terrifying when it all comes tumbling down. The world so carefully crafted around you, a world built around friendships and favours, shared interests and mutual fears. A world carefully controlled by the interlocking spiderwebs of self-interest and self-preservation. A world in which the original reason you built  your house of cards is long-forgotten amidst the task of maintaining your current position.

Maybe this is News International. Maybe this is the continuing revelations about deep corruption at the heart of our free press, elected politicians and our Police force. That is certainly a house of cards that is tumbling, tumbling, tumbling. How far will it fall?

It’s made me think about, well, me. Us. About how easy it is to get drawn in, to take a simple and firm foundation and begin to build on it with cards. After all, we are called to influence the world we live in; so it is important to know people to be able to do that. So how do we choose those worth knowing? Card 1. We cannot know everyone, so who do we ditch? Card 2. It is important to have the press onside. Card 3. Better the devil you know. Card 4.

Jesus had an unusual relationship with the ruling elite. They wanted him as one of them, but they couldn’t have him. The Pharisees saw his qualities and some of them saw his truth – see Nicodemus – but he was too risky for them. They had a house of cards they did not want the Spirit to blow through. Position, favour, reputation. White-washed tombs, Jesus called them. Looks great on the outside, but contains only death within. Harsh?

It’s easy to knock those in the public eye. As the webs of deceit and corruption surrounding surrounding News International and our ruling elite are exposed, it is easy to look in righteous anger. And rightly so. Yet in that old cliche from the 90’s, What Would Jesus Do?

Remove the plank from your own eye before you point out the speck in your brother’s.

I know the church has friends in high places. Not just the ‘established‘ church, though of course we probably go as high as it’s possible, what with the Queen being the Supreme Governor of the church and our Bishop’s sitting in the House of Lord’s. There’s also many Christian lobbying groups and think-tanks, from Theos to Ekklesia to CARE to Faithworks and Charities Parliament; there’s well-known and unknown Christians at the heart of our decision-making, like Steve Chalke to Rowan Williams and many others from across the spectrum of evangelical to Catholic, conservative to liberal.

We must pray for them. We must help in holding them all to account, whether we support them or not. Do they get too close, or not close enough? Are they blowing on the house of cards, or helping build one? We’re in it together. We’re about Jesus, not reputation. Kingdom, not personal empire, whether we mix with Prime Ministers or local councillors or the local gang leader.

There’s a lot of houses of cards out there. It’s good to blow on them. It’s not good to sit on them.

Though we cannot help it. After all, what is faith, if not a house of cards?

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