Saturday, June 03, 2006
overheard a bizarre conversation this morning when i popped into work talking about how 'we need to take charge of this island for christ' and 'banish the sins of the weak disciples and release a (and i can't believe this word was used) crusade to bring sinners back to god'
oh sweet jesus....bollocks is my gut response...these two men (who i will not name) were discussing what 'effective evangelism' is. words fail me, they really do...i just think the most important thing in the world is that we all find some place to be....to belong
The voice of John Donne said that ‘No man is an island’ and the Bible tells us that we should bear one another’s burdens. In other words the task at hand is to live in the world as God’s body, his emotional incarnation if you like. Philip Yancey frames this beautifully when he says that, ‘the united strength of Christ’s body can be a powerful force on behalf of the lonely, suffering and deprived. It can be like a tree in the gospel that grows so large that birds begin to nest in its branches.’
There is such endless need on earth – much more than we can ever know. Some of it is economic need, and some of it social need, but in a deeper way it is all inner need brought into people’s lives by the dark powers of injustice, greed and betrayal. Effective evangelism seeks to draw disciples from these dark landscapes. As the community of faith we need to reassess. It is unlikely that there will be another Pentecost - where thousands are baptized in one day. Yet we long for the seeds which Jesus talked about to be planted in our contemporary culture. Mission cannot be forced, but I have an enormous longing for the seed to be sown. I am conscious though that our job is not to bring in the Kingdom but bear witness to the Kingdom. We need to rediscover the man of sorrows. We need to be more adventurous in our discipleship and discussions. There is no place for patronising contradictions, but there is a need for sensitive and discerning Scriptural evaluations of the plight of our neighbours.
Macro Christianity - crusades, football stadium altar-calls, must be replaced with Micro Christianity: that tender landscape where practical love is embraced and the commitment to the long slow dent of Christian living amongst the broken, fallen world is born and nurtured. ‘Effective evangelism’ can be found when evil, pain and suffering are nourished by tears; that place where our compassion becomes a signpost pointing on beyond itself.
whilst we mourn and weep
through these human hours
this day in paradise
this blazing embrace
between Saviour and child