Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nothing Personal Part 1

Now you’re probably thinking that I’ve gone off the boil on the whole fasting topic with the lack of new material on the issue. That thought is wrong. I am keener than ever before to continue on the topic. There’s a whole backlog of stuff waiting to come tumbling out on the issue as it regards to seeing wider than we do and what happens when the level of intensity increases in approaching the subject. All of that just waiting to burst forth and indeed some of it may have burst forth today if it weren’t for a significant occurrence today that sparked a range of thoughts and triggered the need for today’s blog entry.

Now as I sat to write, this evening, I had an onrush of words to the head and wrote those out. To give you a bit of insight into some of my writing processes I write a Word document almost every day called CD Notes. This will have on some of my things to do for the day and a scripture of encouragement. It will then note ideas, thoughts, reflections, web- stuff and other stuff that I get over the day. More often than not this will be the first place that I write the nucleus and sometimes the entirety of what will be the post for this blog. From here I’ll detach the text for the blog and put it in a separate Word document. Then I’ll look at the text and make any alterations, additions and amendments as necessary. Recently such was the extended nature of the notes I was making on the subject of fasting that it formed the basics of the series that you’ve been enjoying. This actually gives me something to look forward to when I write the blog for the day because I have the day’s reflections and the basis for what the entry is meant to be developing the thought. It’s not unusual that I’ll have a paragraph on the basis and the direction of the day’s thoughts will take a life of its own.

So as indicated I was of the mind today to continue with the series on fasting and have had the material building up in the notes from the days since the last post ready and waiting to publish. Yet today was different because of a number of strands of thought conspiring to trigger off what was meant to be a one off post. Yet after the initial writing on the CD Notes document as I transferred it to a document on its own it became quite clear that one posting on this subject would be insufficient. So the plan is that I’ll provide a brief detour from the current series with a four-parter on the topic Nothing Personal. I’ll endeavour to be disciplined – the two parts should be sorted with no need for further expansion. There maybe some connecting points between this and the ongoing series which I’ll make when we resume the series in the very near future.

I need to put this disclaimer on this article more than any other I’ve written and posted. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the denomination to which I belong, the local fellowship of which I’m a part or indeed the family of which I am the head. Also the views expressed in this blog may offend people of a particular philosophical or political disposition. Depending on who reads it will determine the level to which people agree or disagree with my perspective stated here. I can state clearly that I have not written this post deliberately to offend. It is not a provocative blog for the sake of it at all. I have endeavoured to make the entry as considered and careful as possible, but I have also sought to say what I’m saying without varnish or covering up the truth of how I feel on the issue. As well as that the views also come from my understanding of being a follower of Christ at this time. I am open to further teaching from scripture and illumination from the Spirit. Words printed here are not to be taken as my stance forever, amen. They are relatively subject to change. Yet I do feel very strongly about the issue in question.

OK with that in mind, as ever context is important to frame the topic for ‘brief’ perusal. My beliefs and faith has been stretched considerably in the three years that I’ve worked for the YMCA. As groundbreaking as the eye-opening time at university, my time at the YMCA has challenged, informed and recalibrated a lot of areas of my understanding of walking with Christ. I acknowledge the limited and rather close-minded approach I had to Christianity before university and it was still pretty evident when I started at the YMCA, but you cannot survive working for the YMCA unless you’re prepared to have your beliefs challenged.

One of the reasons for that is because the YMCA is an ecumenical organisation, that is although there are some YMCA’s that are strongly affiliated to a denomination because of locality and influence the organisation ethos is not to subscribe to one particular stream of Christian expression in the hope of being broad enough to embrace all as it fits the mission of the organisation. Now, such a stance actually swings the organisation in one way rather than another when it comes to the aforementioned streams of Christian expression. That is to say it is prone to be part of the liberal, open-ended, quasi-emergent end of the Christian spectrum. This is because such a part of the brotherhood is easier going about different forms of Christianity and as with most liberal expressions the only reluctance is with forms that are not inclusive and too heavily prescriptive.

This is somewhat of a caricature of the YMCA’s Christian position, but is not too far from the truth where people like Malcolm Duncan, Brian McClaren and Rob Bell would be more than welcome. Dudes from the conservative evangelical end of the market would not be given the rule of the ranch because of their perceived compressing and depressing version of following Christ.

Now I am not comfortable with this end of Christian expression part of it is the ties to the upbringing I have and part of it is because of how destabilising I think it is with regard to the role of scripture and the mission of Christ. There’s also a reluctance to embrace something that appears to be more designed by the cultural trends of the time and shaped by the popular philosophies of the time at the cost of faithfully sticking with a gospel that in no ways seeks to be cool, trendy, in-vogue or in tune with the times.

Those reservations apart, one thing I am glad for about the YMCA is the role grace plays in negotiating those areas of disagreement around the shared ultimate value of Jesus Christ. So whereas in time past I would not only sniff and huff at some stuff that I might not necessarily agree with but outright remove myself from such heathens, now I make an effort at least to have an understanding of what’s going on. Indeed as I consider some of what they have to say I find myself nodding my head in agreement, confirming it with scripture and further broadening my understanding of this incredible God who goes beyond human comprehension and methods of definition. This process is as much down to relationships as it is exploring writings and teachings on doctrinal positions.

Again with the power of relationships and a particular example of that will be shown in the second part of this three-parter. It highlights again that this journey with Jesus is as much about people as it is about Jesus and failing either part of the relationship leaves things incomplete. Be sure to find out more in the next blog entry now.

For His Name's Sake



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