Tagged: Jesus

“If I wasn’t a follower of Jesus and I was looking in on the Twitter feeds of Christians, I would think several different things about who Jesus really is by the way people talk about him.”

When the parents of my daughter’s friends discovered the other day we were Christians, they asked if we were “happy-clappy or Songs of Praise”. An interesting way of defining the term ‘Christians’ we thought to ourselves.  In fact, it was also intriguing how “proper Christians” (as we were also described) are viewed.  It’s either one type or the other apparently.  Even more fascinating to me was how far this is all broken down once you are ‘on the inside’.Let me explain.  If I wasn’t a follower of Jesus and I was looking in on the Twitter feeds of Christians, I would think several different things about who Jesus really is by the way people talk about him.  And it gets far more complex than Songs of Praise or rainbow strapped guitars. At the very least, I would think Jesus is somewhat more concerned or defined by some causes and ideologies rather than others.  Examples might be:

  • Jesus the socialist (I find Tory Christians tend to be less vocal about their politics on Twitter)
  • The feminist (Ditto masculists as above)
  • The romantic (going by comments about worship)
  • The radical anarchist
  • The pentecostal
  • The cessationist (i.e. strange fire)
  • The new monastic
  • The abolitionist
  • The contemplative
  • The pacifist
  • The creationist (more vocal on Twitter)
  • The evolutionist (mostly keep their heads down on Twitter)
  • The environmentalist
  • The petrol head (added that one for my own sake)

In fact, when I talk to some people or read certain blogs, they often define their own walk of faith via a particular cause, often at the exclusion of other ideologies or positions. For example, “I’m a pacifist Christian.”

That’s all well and good but I start to feel a bit miffed when people go on to say something like, “Jesus was a pacifist” or “Jesus was a socialist”, or any of the above actually.

I’m not going to argue the case over any of those issues, that is not the point of this piece.

But I guess I want to ask the question: “Do we talk about Jesus as King enough?”  Or do we rather talk about the Jesus of our own cause or particular emphasis ahead of that?

Now don’t read into this anymore than what is here.  I’m not saying those causes aren’t valid.  I may not agree with them all but that’s irrelevant.  One thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that Jesus is King and that one day every knee will bow to him.  More than that, I hope we can agree that this is a major thrust of the Christian message and that our lives need to be surrendered to him.  The issues and causes we are passionate about come about because the Holy Spirit has burned a cause or calling in our hearts and lives.  That’s fantastic and as it should be.  Faith without works is dead.  And a Christian without a passion for justice or without desire to see the world changed is like naan bread but without the curry.

In the process of choosing which causes we ultimately care about, let’s make sure the primary and overriding message is that of Jesus and the need to surrender our lives to him.  I fear that if we don’t, then the danger is that we are just seen as people who care about moral frameworks or beliefs.  Good and right though that is, it’s not the point is it?  Call me old-school but when I read the Bible I see bad news as well as good news.  I wish that wasn’t true, but it is.  Let’s make sure that we give people a valid opportunity to hear the gospel as well as hear the causes and passions we care about most.

This blog was first published on Threads.uk

I was present at the birth of both of my daughters.  It was of course an amazing experience and far more exhilarating then the gas and air that I sampled earlier in the labours. (Just checking it was safe of course, much like Nehemiah and the Kings wine).

When both of them were born, I gave them a cuddle within minutes of the birth.  These were on both occasions profound moments. I heard a still small voice that I knew to be the Lords.  I had a distinct sense from God that He was telling me that they were in effect on loan to me. My job was to raise them and to show them Jesus through the conduct of my life and by sharing with them the things that we saw God doing in our lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The kids have heard us row as well as seen us make up.  They’ve seen me get it wrong and they’ve heard me apologise to them.  I’ve prayed with them and at times neglected to do so because I’ve been away or taken my eye off the ball.  I’ve shared the stories of what Jesus has done in my life and heard them beg me to tell them another story…only to go for chunks of time when I have let it slip.  In other words I am doing my best but I get it wrong plenty of times.  One thing I have done is pray for them frequently and for a variety of things, including any future husbands they might meet. (I’ve been praying for that since before they were born!)

As part of our commitment to our kids development spiritually, Karen and I started to lead the Sunday school group they are part of.  (As an aside I really do believe we need more men leading kids work so I’m putting my time where my mouth is).

During one time of preparation for Sunday my eldest sat and read the bible with Karen.  For some reason, this gripped my daughter and she took it upon herself (she is 13) to read a page of the bible every night from Genesis until she finished it.  I tried to show her that there might be a more interesting way to do it (worried of course about lists of skin diseases and laws in Leviticus being a bit boring etc) but shes a single minded kinda kid and she wouldn’t hear any of it.

Several nights ago Karen find her quietly lying on her bed with tears running down her cheeks.  She had just met Jesus despite only reaching Exodus.  The word of God has power to change lives.

My eldest daughter has always been a character; a free thinker, artistic, willing to challenge and not one for the status quo.  Turns out Jesus was well able to work with that, despite my at times prayers of angst.

I share this to encourage you blokes;  Keep praying, keep modelling Jesus, keep your heads, spend time with your kids, let them see you being men of God, take your share in the responsibility you have for pointing beyond yourself to Jesus and remember, despite your fragility and weakness, God is sovereign  and your kids are precious to him too.

 

 

A few weeks ago the CVM team and I headed off for another nights stay at a hotel somewhere in the UK, ahead of a regional mens conference we were putting on.  Pitching up at the hotel my wife (and PA) had booked for us, we found it difficult to find the reception but eventually found a side entrance that led into a small bar area.  The bar was pretty brightly lit with disco lights and some pretty loud, hard core (by my standards) dance music was pumping out to the 5 people that were there.  The conversation with the barman went something like this;

BARMAN “Let me take you to your rooms, so what are you doing in town?”

ME “I lead a Christian mission agency that works mostly with men. We’re running a conference tomorrow.”

BARMAN “So what do you do?”

ME “Well we tackle all sorts of issues that men face in life and help them unpack how the message of Jesus can help them.  We support churches all over the UK etc etc.”

BARMAN “Fair enough…” looks blank and uninterested and starts talking about how many stairs there are.

And that was that…

Later that evening after a curry we went back to the bar for a drink.  By this time it was absolutely heaving and stuffed full of men and women in party mode.  Sitting outside with a glass of something, it was my team members who started to notice something was a bit different about the place.  A quick web search later on the phones  and it turns out that the place we were staying was, although ‘straight friendly’, the pre eminent gay bar and hotel in the town. After a moment of laughter at the situation, we were asked to move inside as the licencing requirements meant that after 10.30pm no one could drink outside.

You have a choice in these situations.  To quote The Clash, its a case of “do I stay or do I go now.”  We decided to stay up for another drink and eventually it was just Dean and I standing at the bar for another hour or so.  Picture it, two youngish straight leaders of a national mens ministry, the night before a mens ministry conference, in the company of 100 or so gay men and women.

Heres what I saw and the questions I left with;

1) It was a friendly, totally unthreatening and pretty chilled out crowd.

2) There was a genuine sense of friendship and comradeship amongst the men and women there that was way beyond the superficial we see and experience in many of our christian communities. Genuine belonging.

3) I could sense deep within me the love of God for every person in there but also a sense of lostness.

5) I felt the Holy Spirit challenge me to focus some attention into the issue of reaching the gay community with the message of Jesus.

6) I was left asking myself why as a specialist evangelist to men, I hadn’t ever gone into a gay bar to talk to blokes before with a colleague or two or investigated seriously, what CVM should do. I suspect Jesus would have done so by now?

And that got me thinking about the complete ambivalence of the obviously gay barman who showed me to my room, when he found out I was a Christian.  I suspect he had not heard the message of the pearl of great price.  The story about amazing treasure of the gospel that causes people to radically change their lives, giving up everything for it, if thats what it takes.

I suspect he hadn’t heard it because he hadn’t met someone yet who could articulate it to him in a way that he would get it, or perhaps even demonstrate it by the conduct of their lives.  I’m not saying there aren’t those people, more that he hadn’t met one!

So Im thinking.  Whats good news to the gay barman, in the seaside town, in the towns foremost gay hotel and bar?  And furthermore, whose going to take that message to him?

Shalom.