community of grace, Discipleship, Godliness, Life styles

Grey and Grace?

Okay, I’m going to be very controversial here…

When John Sentimu was Bishop of Birmingham he said “XXX number of children are going to die today due to unclean drinking water and you don’t give a ****, what is more you are probably more offended by me swearing in a Cathedral than the shocking statistic.”

Imagine you were standing behind your house-group leader in the queue in tescos, and you saw them buy unfair traded coffee, would we even notice?

What about if they bought  copy of the Daily Mail?

How about if they bought a copy the book  Fifty Shades of Gray?

Or perhaps the Game of Thrones Box set?

What about a lottery ticket?

Or a copy of the Gay Times?

Or a ton of booze?

Or perhaps they posted something from Britain First on their facebook page?

Or bumped into them shopping in Primark (which often uses child labour and sweat shop labour)?

Or they dropped their purse/wallet and said the F word, or maybe even said “Jesus Christ”?

Or when the Church is doing a Mission you see on facebook that they went to the pub?

Or missed a prayer meeting because they were tired after work?

Perhaps every week they turn up to Church wearing a new Armani suit or a different pair of mega bucks shoes?

And then as we watch our home-group leader doing whatever, do we suddenly ask ourselves the question “Are we being judgmental towards him or her?”

Some of those things might have registered no reaction at all from you, some might have got you a bit hot under the collar?

-Probably for some of them might have had a pang in your tummy, thinking ‘I do that!’ (health warning: I’m not necessarily saying everything on this list is sinful, certainly different people would draw the line in different places, but floating them to get us thinking, What really are our priorities? Where are our hearts? )

I was talking to a lady on Sunday who said “Christians are obsessed about sex, but what would the world and the Church look like if their obsession on sex was directed towards mission and justice?” (on one level she’s right!)

At college someone coined the phrase (excuse the crudeness) about “more worried about wallets than willies” but I’m not sure I agree with them having seen terrified teenagers discover they were pregnant and heard their stories, I think it is right we take sex seriously but surely it’s a false paradox, can’t we take sexual ethics seriously as well as issues of mission and justice?

Yet is it easy to pick on the sin we are  least likely to commit and make a big deal about that whilst ignoring our ‘minor indiscretions’ claiming everyone does it, and after all no one is perfect’?

I’ll lay my cards on the table, I can be pretty judgmental about rich people as we don’t have much cash so turning up to Church in an Armani suit probably isn’t going to be my downfall, whereas there are plenty of other things which might well derail me.

Yet it made me think a bit about where we get our values from, do we simply reflect the culture around us, what everyone else thinks is okay we go along with?

If we ask “what would Jesus do?” do we assume its the stuff we do and not the stuff “other people do”?

Lets’ maybe ask that same question more critically.

Many of our choices we don’t even really think about what God’s opinion might be?

Sometimes we don’t realize that our choices have consequences for people we might not see (but are very much real people).

Are our values, hang ups and priorities those of the spirit of God?

Do we have more grace and love towards brothers and sisters who struggle with different things to those we struggle with?

Do we have the courage to stand up and say “this is wrong”, shining a light on injustice?

And (at  the risk of being really controversial) when I think about how vast parts of the Church in Nazi Germany just simply rolled over and accepted Antisemitism simply because it is the norm and everyone was doing it.

Are we blinded to sin because we are so used to it being everywhere in our culture.

Lets’ be people who love and stand up for truth.

I saw the film Cinderella with my daughter recently and was struck by two quotes; “courage and kindness in all you do” and “Just because it is how it has always been done isn’t how it always should be done”.

A very challenging comment I read on facebook was “In 100 years time it will be seen as shocking to own possessions made in sweatshops and slaves, than it is now when we think of the historic slave trade”.

At All Souls we are doing a series on discipleship, and I think the question has got to be ‘what does a life look like that is infused by Christ’s Holy Spirit in every part’, is Christ Lord of all? Or just the Lord of the bits that show?

Is God telling some of us to sort out areas of their lives?

Is God challenging some of us about our attitudes to people who struggle with different things?

Is God asking some of us to think where do we get our values from and asking God to realign our thinking with his spirit?

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