Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2006

The Hour Has Come

Jesus said, 'An hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.'
There is nothing prophetic about this saying, of course. There have always been people who believed that by killing someone else they were offering worship to God. Jesus' own enemies were motivated by religious zeal when they had him crucified.
Ironically, the persecutors of the early Christians sometimes attacked them for being atheists and denying the existence of the gods, because they refused to worship idols. And, as soon as they got their own hands on the levers of power, Christians began killing one another for believing the wrong things. They were even more enthusiastic about killing the followers of other faiths – especially Islam – whose expansion for a long time threatened the very existence of Christianity. Those who killed the Church's mortal enemies were easily persuaded that they were offering worship to God.
For most of our lives these dest…

Putting Jesus' Disciples Back Into The World

In this week's Gospel passage, Jesus says in his prayer: 'I am not asking you to take [my disciples] out of the world.'[1]
Far too often, the Church has not heeded that prayer. It has been more than happy to take Jesus' disciples out of the world. However, Jesus' disciples share the responsibility for this sorry state of affairs. We have not had to be browbeaten or persuaded into leaving the world behind. Many of us have been only too willing to join the headlong retreat.
Let's face it. The world can be a tough place and the Church can seem like a welcome escape. Not only that, but people who don't amount to much in the world's estimation can become very important in the Church. And that's basically a good thing, because it's a sign that the Church can turn the values of the world upside down.
The Church's openness to different ways of calculating people's worth means that it sometimes manages to recognise the talents and abilities of peopl…

Sharing the Good News With People of Other Faiths

Together with other local Christians, clergy and lay people, I find myself – from time to time – giving thought to how we share our Christian faith with people from other religious backgrounds. It is a ticklish issue, because converting from one faith to another is a huge decision to make and it may not be appropriate for everyone. Becoming a Christian is always a life changing event, but for someone from another faith background it can sometimes cause immense dislocation and hardship, including estrangement from family members and friends who cannot accept their decision. It may even cut a person off from their entire cultural heritage, so it is not something that we can expect people to enter into lightly or thoughtlessly. Nor is it likely to be easy for them to make a gradual progression or pilgrimage to Christian faith. At some point they may have to choose whether or not to make a radical break with their past, unless they decide to be secret or closet believers. And they may dec…

The Four Abiding Truths of Methodism

The heart of the Christian message is contained in just three sentences from the first letter of John. John says, 'We should believe in the name of [God's] Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.'[1]
John Wesley's message became distinctive, in his lifetime, because of his repeated emphasis on four things: everyone needs to abide in Jesus; everyone can abide in Jesus; everyone can know that they abide in Jesus; and everyone can abide in him completely. This is not quite how Wesley put it, but it's what he might have said if he had published a sermon on this particular passage. They are the four 'abiding truths' of Methodism.
In his 'Notes on the New Testament', Wesley says, 'This [passage contains] the greatest and most important command that ever issued from the throne of glor…