Monday, 13 September 2010

Perspectives


Many years ago, when I first decided that maybe I should try ‘church’ again, we went to a Pioneer ‘Event’ in Norfolk and Martin Scott was speaking at one of the sessions.  I had only recently decided to be back on speaking terms with God and was still unconvinced by a lot of what passed for ‘church’.  Some of the people seemed nice and some seemed, frankly, nuts but what bothered me most about organized Christian clubs (or churches as we like to call them) was what is sometimes called theology but I’d more readily call dogma. By dogma I mean not just a way of thinking about God and our relationship to him but one specific set of ideas becoming crystallised and solidified so that they are unchanging, worse still unchallengeable, and are given the label ‘truth’.  Sadly I can remember nothing of what Martin spoke about that day but his introduction has stuck with me.  Obviously I can’t remember the exact words but the gist of it was along these lines…

“What I’m going to teach today isn’t the truth.  It’s what God is saying to me at the moment.  There are things I believe now that I didn’t necessarily believe five years ago and in five years’ time I may not believe some of the things I talk about today.  Don’t swallow what I say whole, take your Bible, and some time, to ask God what he thinks about it and then make up your own mind.”
(Now if I’ve misquoted you horribly Martin I apologize – this is only my imperfect recollection so if anyone disagrees with this statement vehemently you may direct your diatribes at me not Martin Scott!)

That to me was like someone taking all of my foundations of what it means to be part of a ‘church’ and smashing them up right before my eyes and then handing me another sledgehammer and asking me if I’d like to join in!  Intentionally or otherwise the church network I’d grown up in had instilled in me the belief that revelation, absolute revelation, was not only possible but had in fact been achieved; that there was a dogma that was better than all the other churches and it was ours.  We may learn a bit more and enhance our dogma a little, but there would never, ever, be anything we needed to unlearn.  I liked Martin’s viewpoint so much we threw our lot in with a Pioneer church and my renewed adventure with Jesus got off to a good start.

All of this is background to the point I want to make, it’s the scenery that gives my thoughts in this blog some context.

Since 2008 my wife, Mags, and I have been going down some interesting roads on our spiritual journey.  Mags really started her trek off the beaten path a few years earlier when we were on holiday in Canada in 2005, but she can tell you about that herself another time. In 2008 we met Justin Abraham and Dave Vaughan from ‘Emerge Wales’ and I felt like a door to a previously unheard of path was suddenly opened in front of me and Jesus was inviting me to come through it.  Over the last two years I’ve experienced Jesus in wonderful new ways and I’ve started believing some things that have shifted my whole life.  Simple stuff about how He came not just to pay the price for my sin but to actually destroy my sinful nature and to give me His nature, how the fullness of the Godhead dwells in me, that God never makes us sick to ‘teach us a lesson’ or develop our character, that good health and healing were bought for us and are our inheritance, that there’s living water bubbling up from my belly, that there’s nothing I can do to earn my salvation, that He’s done it all and I can stop trying and just be, that the good news is still ‘the Kingdom is near at hand’, that the struggle with sin is over and I’m not the man in Romans 7, that healing and deliverance and supernatural encounters are the norm for believing believers, that passion, wild abandon and fun can be the hallmarks of an encounter with God’s presence!  And there’s more…so MUCH more!  It’s impossible to create a dogma out of this Jesus because if you could then he’d be finite and limited to our understanding and suddenly He wouldn’t be God any more!

It’s been an interesting road because not everyone thinks the same way about some of this.  Some people really don’t like this road and don’t want to travel on it or don’t feel it’s for them.  Which is fine, but some people don’t want anyone else travelling on it either, which isn’t fine.

I woke up the other morning with the following thought floating round my head; “Any theology that doesn’t produce more grace and more love needs to be viewed with suspicion.” I was pondering where I’d heard it before or where I’d read it and have come to the conclusion it’s my thought, for me.  It’s a reminder not to judge other people’s motives, journey with Jesus or beliefs.  Just because I’m on a certain journey what makes me think everyone else has to be on it too?  If I try to police another person’s faith I have stopped having my own perspective and I have instead created myself a dogma, one I feel is superior to theirs. The flip side is true too, I will not allow myself to be policed by someone else’s beliefs or dogma, their journey is theirs and not mine.  When I am hurt by criticism or when I get offended by someone disagreeing with me surely it’s my pride that is hurt or offended; and really I should just get over it!  That’s the herd mentality that wants everyone to be going in the same direction in all things and Jesus doesn’t treat us that way.  He is capable of having a unique relationship with every one of us and I want to pursue my relationship with him into deeper realms of mystery.  Some of that journey will be alone, some of it will involve a small group of close friends and some of it a larger group using the label ‘church’.  However my responsibility is to be so full of grace and love that I rejoice in the things we have in common and don’t let our differences cause me to stumble and lose my way.  That’s my perspective… for today anyway!

8 comments:

  1. Great post, Phil - and welcome back to the blogging world!

    I think many people are on a journey where church and belief are concerned - and it seems that for many of us it's taking us away from what is considered to be the 'correct way of doing/believing things'.

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing. The timing couldn't be better. We've been going on a similar journey for the last 2 years.

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  3. good blog Phil. You summed it all up well.

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  4. I dig it. I especially like the part that said "It’s impossible to create a dogma out of this Jesus because if you could then he’d be finite and limited to our understanding and suddenly He wouldn’t be God any more!"
    it is so true... people (lots of them, but not all)try to put Jesus in a box... but he is infinite.
    A song my son sings at school says "oh you can't put Jesus' love in a box, love in a box, love in a box...cause it all comes a bubblin' through."
    He can outgrow, outreach, bubble through anything!

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  5. I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

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  6. Hi Phil
    Just discovered your blog via Dyfed's blogroll: Mags you shoulda told me before! Love this piece. Kind of what I was trying to say in http://sallyanndyer.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/the-bee-in-my-bonnet/ though obviously your journey is different from mine... ha ha thats the point. Am really grateful for your journey and the way you express it so beautifully here - such grace and freedom! I want to know your friend Jesus much more.
    Still remember you drumming on Comic Relief night in Cardiff... Thanks for joy!
    Love and respect to you both
    Sally Ann (Redhead) xx

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