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The whole question of community is something that I’ve wrestled with for years, what does it look like, how should it be ‘done’, etc.? I think now however that I have the real definition of community. And it comes from very personal experience.
Now, this blog is really not about me, but to explain I have to tell you just a little. After 12 years in Canada, we are returning to the UK – we were called out here, and we now believe the Lord is calling us back. Twelve years to the day, precisely. Not planned, but 12 years seems somehow appropriate.
In all this time I have been part of a church with a deeply welcoming heart. Not perfect for sure, and we have had our fair share of challenges. But the first church that I have ever been part of that could be honestly said to be a community. Where it’s not just acquaintances that attend on Sunday, but something much deeper than that. And I am going to really miss their friendship.
In the midst of our move, I think I have discovered the meaning of community.
- It is friends who, not knowing if they will see you again, work late cleaning your house and haul away your garbage.
- It is friends who drop by unannounced with meals to feed the hungry, with no expectation of return.
- It is friends who stay up and drive out to your house past midnight to pick up those extra bags you just can’t stuff in, and who open their home up to the newly minted homeless family.
- It is friends who give, with no expectation of return, because they love you. That is community.
Often I see articles, or words, by people who predict a great judgment to befall a country (it’s usually America…though other countries are available…). But that got me thinking. What do we mean by judgment? Usually we are thinking of some kind of calamity – earthquake, storm, financial crash, etc. Now, that’s not wrong, and we know from the Bible that such judgments do occur.
But, it seems to me that the very worst kind of judgment that God could bestow on a rebellious people is to say “Thy will be done”. That is, to leave us alone with our desires, with our appetites and with our fears; to stand back and allow us to do what we want. I can’t imagine a more terrifying judgment than that.
Sometimes I wonder if that is the very judgment that has now been bestowed on us.
To follow on from my previous post – what then can we do? What is this to you, and to me? We don’t do these things, right? Well correct, to a degree – a man dies for his own sins.
But how, honestly, do you separate yourself from what your society is doing? We’re not an island, independent from others, we share in the sins of society. This is a strange concept in our hyper-individualised culture. But maybe it’s something we should ponder. Consider the story of Achan – one man, one sin, one nation in deep trouble.
Is that too long ago and in too foreign a culture? Well, consider this – have we wondered how could ordinary people could have lived so close to the ovens of Auschwitz and not said or done anything? They didn’t know, they didn’t want to know, they closed their eyes and ears. And we judged them for their complicity in silence. Do you think future generations will judge us differently?
There is a deep darkness at the heart of our culture, and at the risk of repeating myself – this will not end well.
“And if we can accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion”
We will surely destroy ourselves, or be destroyed. In the meantime, as this culture of death digs its fangs more deeply on our society, there is going to be a price to be paid to be loyal to Christ. You can be successful, or a Christian. That’s already happening to some degree. Maybe harder forms of persecution will come. And revival too, because even the best lies do not ultimately satisfy, and people will be drawn by the Gospel.
What then can we do? From Mark Mallet again:
What should be our response? Joy. Yes, how else do we counter the culture of despair but by being the face of hope, a light in the darkness. Let us be the locus point of the beauty and gift that life is. Let others look upon us, even in our suffering—the way the world looked upon St. John Paul II in the last stages of his Parkinson’s disease—and see that life, in all its seasons, is a gift from God. Let us radiate from a deep personal relationship with Jesus the joy of being loved by Him, and then in turn, love others. This is the “Gospel of Life” at its source and foundation.
At the end, we can’t ‘fix’ this world, only He can. That’s not to say we should not be engaged as salt and light – that’s what He calls us to be. We cannot be silent, complicit and withdrawing in the face of evil. But we have to be centered in Christ. Only Christ. Nothing else. The only solid ground there is.
We’ve read the end of the Bible, and we know who is the Victor, so there is no need to despair. Let our response be Joy, and let us proclaim Christ Crucified in a world that grows ever more dark.
Sometimes, it seems that the only thing I can bring to the table this Easter
is my sin, my brokenness and my failure.
The world has correctly judged ISIS and their ilk as evil. And rightly so, for they are stunted barbarians, semi-humans, devoid of love, mercy, pity or anything that is good. And they serve their father, Satan, well.
But they do have one thing that we do not – honesty. They are honest in their barbarism, clear in their embrace of evil and contempt of God and anything that is good, noble and honourable.
They have slain their tens of thousands. But we have slain our millions. And what we have done, and are doing is far, far worse. They slay their enemies. We slay our own children, sacrificed on the altar of ‘choice’. They celebrate their killings. We lie, dissemble and cover with weasel-words the utter barbarism of our misdeeds.
We think we are civilised. We are not, we are savages hiding from the truth, lying to the world and to ourselves. Future generations will look upon us with horror and revulsion.
Abortion. ‘Involuntary’ Euthanasia. A society that strips children of their childhood, removes father and mother to feed our desires, even changes ancient language to better fit our modern wickedness. As they say – this cannot end well.
How can God not judge us? How could we even want to escape it if we ever open our eyes to the enormity of our crimes.
Sometimes I think we want judgment – the end of the world is so prevalent in our fictions. Maybe, somewhere in our subconscious, we know what we deserve and what we’re heading to.
We call Good, Evil and Evil, Good. Where have we heard that before?
From Mark Mallet’s blog:
Death is now the solution to modern man’s problems: if an unexpected pregnancy comes, abort it; if someone is terminally ill, kill them; too old, help them commit suicide; and if your neighbouring country is deemed a threat, a “pre-emptive strike” is in order; if your “national interests” are at stake, send in the drones. Death is a one-size-fits-all.
As it says in James 1 v14:
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
As a culture, our sin is so far advanced, that is has given birth to death, a death we readily embrace, accept, seek after, and call good. Can we really be so blind, so deceived?
When then can we do?
More to follow….
There was a word I received a decade ago, it went like this:
19th March 2005
Is 51 v1-6
Lk 6 v46-49
I saw a wave in the distance. It looks benign, insignificant right now.
I was made aware that the old house – the house of God as it is currently – cannot withstand what is coming.
What is coming? A tsunami, a storm.
What storm? A storm both of persecution and of revival. And we are ready for neither.
We have to be ready, for it is coming. The old structure will not stand. We cannot run for we are called to stand, but we are called to build the house anew. A stronger, deeper house, built on the Rock of Ages.
I thought of this again when reading this article , only for Canada I would substitute The World, and for anti-life, anti-Christ.
I’m hoping to have more to say on this shortly.