Puzzled from Tonypandy.
Why is this journey such an affront to people inside the building? What is so difficult to handle and come to terms with just because I have chosen to walk a different path? In a place that preaches grace why do I have to bow down to law and be the same as everybody else? Is it really so difficult to grasp that there might actually be another perspective? Why so offended by a life so free? Of course I could go into all the good radical Christian answers and throw in words like religious spirits, Pharisees, people need to be open to God, but I find none of these phrases really that helpful because they are just words of the offence in my heart that people see it differently to me. I don’t want to be offended. I want to make a choice to not even be offended with other people’s offence. And that is tough because you know it questions the whole ethos and being of who you are or who you are trying to rediscover in the mess of the detox from the construct. That does not mean I cannot question why? Why do Christians get all touchy about certain things that are not even personal? Why do they get upset when you laugh at some of the stuff you yourself have been locked up in? When you use humour to reveal the sacred cows of places we once stood in? Some people who enjoy a good laugh seem to lose a sense of humour and get really defensive about traditions and buildings and keeping Sunday special. Why does a statement about being church rather than going to church get the shackles up in some when really they know it is true? As you can see this week I have alot of questions but the offence of this journey never ceases to amaze me.
Grit in the Eye.
Is it because I am like an irritant that won’t go away? Like a bit of grit that gets stuck in the eye? I really believe I would be easier to handle and suss out if I came out and said I am backslidden, I want nothing more to do with God. That could be comprehended on their chart of saved (committed to local church) or backslidden (away from God/church) or unsaved. At least then they could pray for me when they see me, believe for conviction to rise up within me so I put my life right with God or see how rebellious and disobedient I have become. How I have hardened my heart to God and His people. But to keep walking with God, still loving Him wholeheartedly, still worshipping, still loving people, and yes that is people inside as well as outside the established church, this is a puzzle to them, off their chart. That is why this walk cannot be right. You cannot love God and not want to worship with His people every Sunday. You cannot connect with God the same way in the aisles of Asda as you do in singing worship songs and hearing the Word. They want to right you off as backslidden but you keep appearing on the page. You are still in the story. You are a part of the picture of what God is doing. Loving, sharing, praying, sharing Christ, worshipping, walking in grace and joy and peace. This is annoying when you love things to be sown up and fenced in. People have unfriended me on Facebook for talking about life in Christ. Not unbelievers but believers. Unbelievers seem strangely drawn to such a life. These people are unoffended reading status’ about drinking at the weekend and getting wasted (and I don’t mean Sloshfest either), yet tell them you walked with God through the valleys on a Sunday and they go mad with you. A fence of offence has been built. As I said I think they would have stayed my friend if I said I leave everything and just want to go and get wasted.
This is where I believe we need to be different. We have to walk grace with people who see things differently or who may never see things as we see them. We do only see through a glass dimly. We have only got a perspective. We have to choose to walk unoffended. Love those on a different path or journey. Understand why people do not see as we see it. It helps me to realise that there was a time when I was sitting the other side of the fence judging people outside the four walls. I could not understand people like me. For those of you who resonate with my meanderings and journey I love you all to pieces but even we have to accept that our journeys and out-workings of that journey will be different. To understand how these people feel it would be like me announcing this week that I am going back to pastoring a local church (which I am not I hasten to add ). If we are not careful that could be offensive to us and we no longer want to be a friend of the one journeying outside of where we are. Instead of walking freedom we have created our own box and parameters of where God is at work today. We have to be so careful that grace is the way we walk. How do we show people there is a different way? Not by arguing or trying to convince but by walking grace and love. This may not get answers to all of our questions, and I have many in another week where I have lost friends, but grace and love are great disarmers. Disarms me of anger and offence at their offence, and hopefully begins to disarm others of their judgement of where we stand and walk. I choose to walk grace.
There will be no blog next Thursday as I am flying on Sunday to Latvia to visit Jo and Ian Storie. Will be accompanied again by my great friend Geoff Reed from Cramlington. Appreciate your prayers as we go to encourage and stand with this couple in their call. Joining some dots to see what picture emerges. A new form of mission, not going for meetings or preaching, but just to connect and encourage and stand with someone in their field (literally looking at the pictures). We return next Friday (the 1st June) so will write a report over the w/e of 2nd/3rd.