Our monthly President’s Address has Daniel Gardiner pondering the bigger questions. Have a read!
Can I be honest with you? Sometimes I wonder if I should be in ministry!
I often find that my initial reaction to all kinds of things going on in the world is one of judgment, sarcasm and ‘eye-rolling’. There is a lack of any real reflection on what God might think about the issue.
For instance, gender pronouns – why should someone be able to decide they do not want to identify as the gender (or even the species) they were born as and get the right to make everyone else play along with them?
Do not get me started on ‘flat–earthers’ or conspiracy theorists.
However, as I get older, I discover there is one common question I keep reflecting on when I encounter viewpoints I disagree with; as a Christian, what should my response be?
In unpacking that, I quickly realise that I do not take any ground for God’s Kingdom by belittling, discrediting, or letting others see my eyes be exercised at their expense!
Most of what I have mentioned involves identity in one form or another. Wanting to be recognised, to find where we belong, to be heard and ultimately accepted.
As a Christian my response not only misrepresents Christ, but it is at odds with what He is doing. Colossians 1:20 (NRSV) says,
…and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
The work of Christ is reconciliation!
He made the move of humbling Himself, identifying with us, becoming one of us, accepting us, and ultimately laid his life down to be in relationship with us.
He did not mock us for our beliefs and actions. No, we did that to Him!
So how is this related to us as a movement and our interaction with the world around us?
Even aside from the theological argument, any marketing guru would question why the church and/or Christians seem to go out of our way to alienate the very people we are trying to reach.
Jesus was so engrossed with loving those excluded, particularly by the religious leaders, that he was accused of being amongst them.
Now, I am not saying that we allow any viewpoint to be accepted. Rather I am questioning whether as Christians, our first response to the people we disagree with should be derision or the acceptance that Jesus offers.
Surely the church is the place where all of us once found our identity in other things before finding it in Christ? Why would we alienate those who have not discovered that yet?
I pray that every church in our movement is one where acceptance of ‘others’ is our starting place and reconciliation is embedded in our DNA.