Monday, December 17, 2007

By their fruit...

I’m reading two books at the moment.

They’re rather a contrast.

One is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, the avowed atheist Oxford professor. It’s a very smart, pacy, well-written book, full of wit and drive; incisive, witty, cutting, and very, very clever. And it knows it. Dawkins delights in every point he scores against poor ‘theists’ (those who insist on stupidly clinging to belief in their ‘highly improbable’ deity). It’s a book written by a strong mind, persuading his reader that he must be right – and mocking the reader who may disagree.

The other is Becoming Human by Jean Vanier, the Roman Catholic founder of L’Arche, communities in which people deliberately live together – some being severely ‘intellectually disabled’ (in Vanier’s endearing phrase) – and love and learn from each other. It is simple, humble, straight-forward – and profound. Vanier shows how what we perceive as ‘weakness’ (particularly, in this case, disability) can teach ‘the strong’ what, on the deepest level, it means to be truly human; that is, to love.

I can’t help but think of something Jesus said (Dawkins, by the way, would allow me to believe that Jesus existed, but not allow me to be so certain that He said anything. But, hey).

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:16-18)

The fruit of Dawkins’ philosophy? Cleverness; scorn. And, ultimately, the fruit of Darwinist atheism can only be to disregard the weak. They are simply not ‘naturally selected’. What counts is strength.

The fruit of Vanier’s philosophy? Love; humility. Ultimately the fruit of his faith embraces the weak, and not merely to ‘help’ them, but to learn from them, to learn what humanity truly is. What counts is humanity.

Judge for yourself: if we disregard God as a ‘delusion’ does it help us to ‘become human’?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'm sick and tired, thank God!

Photo by William Vermeulen of stock.xchngDon't worry, I haven't taken leave of my senses. It's just that something a little out of the ordinary happened last night at our household Agape meal.

I’d been talking about “rejoicing always” (Philip.4:4) –both in battles and in blessings.

Afterwards, we were praying about various trials some of us are going through – sickness, weariness, that sort of thing – when suddenly one of our elders began to thank God for them.

“Thank you that my wife has been ill with this bug for weeks and that even though we prayed for her tonight there’s no sign of improvement. Thank you for the migraine that my sister has. Thank you for the fact my head’s been all over the place today.” And so on.

The household was neatly divided into two.

There were those who caught on and started enthusiastically to thank God for other difficulties. “Thank you that that promising young disciple is in a real mess at the moment, getting tangled up with drugs.” “Thank you that my work partner is often in such a bad mood.” “Thank you for my anxieties”...

The other half were obviously rather bewildered. Surely this wasn’t right? Surely we should be asking God to intervene in such circumstances, to change them. Not thanking God for things which weren’t – well – right!

After a little while I stopped things, and commented with a chuckle how odd we find it to do what the New Testament actually tells us to do:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2)
“Rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3a)

We can easily read such verses and give them lip-service; but when you think about it – considering trials “pure joy” is not generally our mindset at all! The reason that James and Paul give is identical:
“...because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3)
“...because we know that suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3b)

We should rejoice in trials and hardships – yes, even thank God for them – because they develop our character, cause us to grow and mature (as James puts it, to “mature and complete, not lacking anything”).

The more you think about it, the more it seems that such an approach is all over the New Testament. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation”, “All things work together for good for those who love God”, “Through many trials we enter the kingdom”, “In everything give thanks”...

Not that there isn’t also plenty about asking God to change things, to intervene, to heal, to deliver, to turn things around. But we should thank God and rejoice all the way through, however He “answers”.

This morning, I got an email from a sister in the household. I think it sums things up quite well:

“I really enjoyed last night thanking God for trials. I think I had not done it very much lately but it is such a powerful thing to do because it confuses the devil no end and it encourages us. It helps us to rely on God more again. God said all things work together for good for those who love him but we find it quite hard to believe that, don't we? Anyway, bless you for bringing that word. Don't give up on teaching us to rejoice. We will get better at it and it will become more normal for us.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Money talk

Cash, wonga, readiesJesus taught that if you wanted His kingdom you’d have to get rid of everything else first (Matthew 13:44, Luke 14:33). Paul warns us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Scandalously, Paul’s words are often quoted by Christians for the wrong reasons. They use Paul to defend themselves against Jesus. “We mustn’t love money” they say (“but we’ll still have plenty. Phew! That got Jesus out of the way”).

Jesus, hammer-like, put it like this: “You’ll either love God and hate money, or the other way around. You choose” (a paraphrase of Matthew 6:24). Jesus says that if you love God you will hate money! (This is less often quoted by Christians.)

Joe Average wouldn’t deny that he loves money. At least he’s honest. Most Christians guiltily deny that they love their cash and make up pretty excuses: “It’s all right to possess money, just don’t let it possess you”. Rather weak, this, compared with Jesus’ line on money which amounted to: “Get rid of it”.

Money keeps two thirds of the world in poverty for a fat minority. Money causes murder, divorce, slander, selfishness. Money drives people to an early grave, promising happiness it never gives. Money brings out the ugly in people. Money kills. (And you love it, don’t you?)

Stop ignoring Jesus. Why sing songs which decorate Him with titles while ignoring large sections of what he taught?

The church in Acts, with its sharing of money, shows us the teachings of Jesus in practice (Acts 4:32-34). Money is channelled into the apostolic work and the justice of providing for the needy in the community. It is surrendered “for the sake of the gospel” (Mark 10:29).

There was an old nun who was asked to explain her vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. She replied, with a twinkle in her eye: “Got no money, got no man, do as I’m told!” I imagine she could look Jesus in the eye.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fear in the fog

“...in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!”
- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream



I had a strange experience last night.

It was late - after 10pm. I went for my customary walk and pray through the large park behind the roads where I live. It’s my time to close one week and open another one: something of a lifeline. I listen to my thoughts, to the silence, and to God.

Last night, was a dark night and misty.

I got to the park and could only see three or four steps in front of me as I walked, so thickly was I surrounded by fog. I quickly got lost, even though I know the park well. Trees loomed up out of the darkness. Unexpected hills and dips in the ground took me by surprise. It was surreal. Strange. Uncanny.

Suddenly I heard a footstep behind me; I froze. It might not sound very scary now, but believe me, my heart was hammering. Then more footsteps, not far off. But I was completely blind to who it was. I began to walk away. The footsteps followed, unevenly. Pad, pad... pad, pad pad...

I headed out to the open green, away from the path and the footsteps didn't follow. I walked on through the pale sea on my three foot round island of grass, blindly.

Unexpectedly, oddly (I thought I'd walked in a straight line), some time later I found myself back at the same tree-lined path. I decided to follow it out of the park. Then I heard them again. Footsteps. Not far off. Uneven. Pad, pad... pad, pad, pad. They'd waited for me, at the path...

I quickened my pace, then slowed right down. Pad, pad... pad, pad, pad... pad. The footsteps were following me, but keeping out of sight. I was frightened.

Then – suddenly – I realised. It wasn't footsteps: it was leaves.

Leaves, big horse chestnut leaves, loosened by the damp air, were dropping off the trees and landing on the ground near me, in the fog. Pad, pad... pad.

I had to laugh at myself. Man of God? Leader? Radical Christian? Afraid of falling leaves just like Mr Jelly!

I walked on down the path and it was then that God spoke, in my heart.

“What were you afraid of?”

“Er,” (feeling foolish in the presence of the Almighty) “ - leaves, Lord.”

“No, what were you actually afraid of?”

“Well, that someone was following me.”

“Why were you afraid of that?”

“Well, they might have been a mugger; they might have attacked me or stabbed me, here in this big, foggy park...”

Then, in that moment, I realised (God didn’t even have to say it as such): how wonky, how back-to-front our fears are. We fear those who may hurt the body; but how often we run pell-mell into the sin which can damn the soul.

We’re afraid of leaves. The real enemy – the sins which cut us off from life – we’re old familiar friends with.

I walked on, humbled till I came to part of the park which was lit by a beacon light high up on a war memorial.

There, I asked God last night to give me a healthy fear of sin, and – in the right sense – of Him.

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Jesus, in Matthew 10:28)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Read all about it on the buses

A little incident last night, recounted to me by a friend:

Last night Shaun and I were walking up toward Broadgate past bus stops and giving people Streetpapers. A bus pulled up and people started getting on, but the driver opened his cab door, held them up and called out to Shaun 'Hey Jesus man, can I have a paper?' he did it twice before Shaun cottoned on and reached through with a paper. The driver received it and then shut his cab and dealt with his passengers.

Encouraging this - not just because I edit the Streetpaper (the 'good news' paper of the Jesus Army)... some people out there want to know.

Jesus is always relevant and we want to spread His fame.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The lawyer didn't like us... (sounds familiar)

We’re a church of the poor, a working class, underclass church. That’s not to say there aren’t people in our ranks who come from ‘privileged’ backgrounds, but they, like the rest of us, have embraced a lifestyle of deliberate equality: brotherhood for real.

One of my friends (son of a wealthy lawyer, now living in Christian community in the same town as me), had an email from an old university friend recently. In it she describes two very different reactions to the Jesus Army.

I recently experienced some strong reactions to JA when I mentioned to a friend from my church (well sort of from my church – he has actually stopped going ‘cause he gets very cross with the vicar) that I’d met up with a uni friend in the JA and some of my thoughts on that. He went off on one about it being controlling and manipulative – and I was a bit like “Whoa – have you actually ever met anyone or talked to anyone in the JA?!”
Anyway – it was an eye opener as to some of the reactions you lot must inspire! To counter this I was also chatting to a homeless guy outside Harrods who was from
Coventry and who knew the JA and said you were all great; in his words “not like the skinny girls who go to HTB!”...
Think its probably telling that it’s the homeless guy and not the middle class lawyer who is positive about your work.

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:16-17)

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Party to end all Parties

We had a large whole church bash last weekend in Sheffield. A kind of all-singing, all-dancing, lights, camera, action kind of affair. (The Jesus Army's good at making enthusiatic noise.)

One of the items we mounted in the evening was a kind of poetic drama I wrote "for four voices" called The Party to end all Parties.

It went down fairly well, so I thought I'd post it here and you can tell me what you think.

The party to end all parties (a drama for four voices)

Dear Sir,
At the end of time,
in the garden of delights,
in the city of peace,
in the newly-made earth,
God
is throwing the party to end all parties.
You are invited.
RSVP.

Voice 2:
Dear God,
I haven’t the time
for your garden of delights, no offence.
I have a field of my own to attend to,
I’m leading the way in my field.
Making it big, as it goes, very busy,
fielding all opposition.
My apologies, hope it goes well.

Voice 3:
Dear God,
Just the wrong time for me,
your city of peace, worse luck.
I’m sure you’ve heard of my breakthrough in business,
Oxen Inc. is on the brink of cornering the market.
So, sorry, pass on my regards,
to the angels.

Voice 4:
Dear God,
Such unfortunate timing
for your fantastic newly-made earth!
See, I’m rather attached to the old one!
After quite a chase, I finally caught her
in matrimonial embrace.
(We’ll be honeymooning in Nice.)
Much regret, but I’ll bet
you’ll have a great time without us.

Voice 1:
Dear sixteen year-old homeless girl,
You’ve continued with prostitution
and you’re trapped in it.
Selling your body in order to survive,
life allowed you no other option.
You are invited
at the end of time,
in the garden of delights,
in the city of peace,
in the newly-made earth,
to the party to end all parties.

Voice 2:
Dear Rwandan asylum seeker,
You suffered from bowel cancer
and had a colostomy bag
and were refused treatment by
Great Britain’s NHS
because you could not register with a doctor.
You are invited
at the end of time,
in the garden of delights,
in the city of peace,
in the newly-made earth,
to the party to end all parties.

Voice 3:
Dear 9,853 ASBOs in England and Wales,
You’re widely regarded as scum,
hopeless and dangerous delinquents,
you’re bored and convinced life is worthless.
You are invited
at the end of time,
in the garden of delights,
in the city of peace,
in the newly-made earth,
to the party to end all parties.

Voice 4:
Dear gay teenager,
You’re terrified that they might find out
and bully you like that queer in your maths class.
They put pictures of him on the internet
and trashed his young life.
You have wet dreams about lads
and wake up feeling desperate.
You are invited
at the end of time,
in the garden of delights,
in the city of peace,
in the newly-made earth,
to the party to end all parties.

Voice 1:
Dear Goth
Voice 2:
dear tramp
Voice 3:
dear autistic kid
Voice 4:
dear crack addict
Voice 1:
dear porn actor
Voice 2:
dear street sweeper
Voice 3:
dear single dad
Voice 4:
dear blind woman
Voice 1:
dear broke father
Voice 2:
dear depressed man
Voice 3:
dear self-harming girl
Voice 4:
dear punk
Voice 1:
dear busker
Voice 2:
dear pensioner
Voice 3:
dear person who isn’t too busy
Voice 4:
dear you.

All voices:
You are invited
at the end of time,
in the garden of delights,
in the city of peace,
in the newly-made earth,
to the party to end all parties.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Four poems on being and not being

To be or not to be

To say that God
does not exist
is to saw off the branch
you are sitting on;
cut down the tree,
burn the forest,
drown the island,
drink the sea,
douse the flame,
wipe clear the sky,
and never have read this poem.
It is to realise with a sudden
certain puzzlement
that you don’t exist either.

Alternatively
it is to be
a fool.

QED

I think therefore I am
I am therefore I think
He is because I think
He thinks therefore I am

He is I am therefore
I am because he thinks
Because He is I am
Therefore I think He is.

Being

Being being
does not make Him
abstraction.
He is not
algebra
alone, not
a quality
but quality itself.
All things: He is;
all things derive
from Him.
There is no thing
that exists
apart from Him.

Turning
does not make me
merely less.
I am not
subtraction,
apart, but
unbeing
inverted upon myself.
Nothing I am
and still I am
from Him.
I cannot think
no thoughts
and this is sin.

Falling, falling,
I will not reach
ground zero.
I cannot fall
beyond
number, not
endlessness,
bottomless infinity.
In hell: He is.
Though I cease
to be
there is no place
to flee
from His presence.

Returning
then, remakes me
much, much more
than only
addition.
Approaching, not
in space
but in likeness.
All things: I am;
all things at home
in me.
For I only truly
live
when found in Him.

Reflection

Funny.
Looking at You is like
looking into a mirror
and realising
that I am the reflection.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Inns on the road

“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

- C.S.Lewis, from The Problem of Pain, Chapter 7

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Poem (written 14.6.05 and still relevant)

John the Baptist

I confess
I am afraid of you
with your wild eyes
your tangled hair and your voice
crying in the wilderness.
Your uncompromising,
unreasonable, discomforting
call.
You’re weird.
The wild man, calling.
I am deeply afraid of you.
Why do you have to come to me?
Upsetting things,
upsetting me,
crying in the wilderness,
eating locusts and honey?

Yet, I confess
I am in love with you
and with your desert call,
your shouting, your clarion
trumpet tongue
raging
against cheap normality,
the way of the world,
the death of things.

And
I want to be you,
John the Baptist.
I want the bitterness of the locust
and the sweetness of honey.
I do love you,
terrifying man.
It is the wound in me
that bolts from you
and wants to scream and cry
and run
and keep quiet, holding my breath,
hoping you’ll go away.

Heal me, John the Baptist.
Baptise me.
Let me come out of the water
facing you
and discover that you are pointing
to the Lamb of God.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Christian community in photographs

Christian community as an intentional way of life. Living together, sharing your always. For some people it may seem like a kind of wonderful Utopian dream, heaven on earth. For others a kind of hell.

For us in New Creation Christian Community, it is a response to a shared passion. We want to follow Jesus. We want to be where He is. And we have found Him to be primarily where His people gather together and determine to obey His command to love.
'This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.' (1 John 3:16-18)

So we share our houses, share our money, share our possessions, our time, our dreams, our joys and pains. We share a vision.

Christian community is primarily Christian and secondarily community. That is, it is first about a person - Jesus - and second about people. And then, far less important, but still worth noting, come things like the effect such simplicity has on the environment, the economy, and society at large.

It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said: 'He who loves community, destroys community. He who loves the brethren, builds community.' Christian Community is about people - Jesus' people.

Given this, it may seem strange that this collection of photographs (taken mainly at one of our large community houses) has few people in it. (People feature in these pictures fleetingly, almost by accident.) But sometimes, over time, objects and buildings can begin, strangely, to tell the story of the people who live among and within them more eloquently than the people themselves.

And, together, the houses and objects - and the people they tell us about - tell us of the Person... the head of the house.

On that day 'Holy to the Lord' will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. (Zechariah 14:20)

Community springs from prayer or it ends in stressCommunity springs from prayer or it ends in stress.

Spelling it out.

Let them eat cake.

And behold, it was done.

The inevitable flapjack.

Dyed in the wood.

Kath and a cat.

Table and chairs, waiting...

Through a glass dimly. But love remains.

A miniature planetarium?

Spoons and their friends.


Jesus Army.

Upstairs, downstairs.

Faith as a seed.

Armchairs and windows, waiting.

Keys of the kingdom.

Outside.

Guitar, waiting.

Outside again.

Who needs Mothercare?

Boots, waiting.

Chill out.

Sure as eggs is eggs (and we get through quite a lot).

At your service.

OOO.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

RAW pix

Some pictures to give the flavour of the RAW event.

What? No chairs?!

Passion-fuelled worship: "I want to meet You, I want to know You, I want to love You, Jesus, as You really are"...

"Jesus Christ, I give You my life".

It's like this... Jesus is alive. No doubt about it.

Brotherhood love: it isn't all high-octane intensity.

I could claim this was me, but no-one would believe me, and it would be a downright lie.

No-one would want to make out that RAW was run by a load of cowboys...

Back to Eden.

Red is the colour of love...

Nailed: people make their commitments to God on the last night.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The power of powerlessness

Powerless powerLuke’s account of the crucifixion [in Luke chapter 23] particularly contrasts the powerlessness of Christ (in worldly terms) with His total authority (in spiritual terms).

Bound, He is bundled from one worldly power to another: high priest, (religious power), Pilate, Herod, Pilate again (rival political powers), and finally to the soldiers (brute force). He is mocked, rejected and crucified, yet remains ‘in charge’ at all times.

With complete courage He tells the high priest the devastating truth: 'this is your hour – when darkness reigns' [22:53]; Pilate is confounded, unable to find a charge against His obvious purity [v.4]; Herod, desperate for some entertainment in his bored worldly life, cannot get a single word out of Him [v.8-9]; on His way to die, Jesus speaks the terrible truth of judgement to the women of Jerusalem [v.27-31]; as the nails are hammered in He prays Father forgive [v.34]; He speaks to the repentant thief as the king that He is [v.42-43]; finally, as the temple curtain is torn in two, He chooses to die, committing His spirit to the Father He had obeyed so unswervingly [v.45-46]. This is true authority which rules in the midst of enemies [Ps.110: 2]. It exposes all worldly power as the sham it is – this is the true authority of love, and of God.

I want us, as a community, as a church, to move in the same authority which is pure, selfless love. The more we divest ourselves of outward power, the more we gain inward authority.

Not that being powerless is having no voice, no influence. Rather that, letting go of the wrong sort of power and influence - the self-protecting, the manipulative, the paranoid and the false - and committing ourselves to the Father, we can have true power. Power not for self - but for Love.

Monday, August 06, 2007

RAW songs

Here's the lyrics to a couple of the new songs we sang at RAW.

This one is about getting past our own fond notions of who Jesus is, or who we'd like Him to be - and getting to know Him as He really is, whether or not the experience of that is "nice":

The Real Jesus Song

I want to break the stained glass window,
See through the stereotypes.
I want to push past all the false Messiahs
Of shallow “Christian” hype
I want to get beyond my own desires
Of what You’ll say to me
And listen to Your real words, Jesus,
Whatever those words may be

I want to meet You
I want to know You
I want to love You, love You, love You, love You
Meet You
I want to know You
I want to love You, Jesus,
As You really are

I want to slam the door on my fantasies,
Stop lying to myself
I’ve got to stop pretending all is well
In a life of sin by stealth
Not going to try and make heaven from hell,
Living for pleasures of the earth
Abandoning all, let me follow You, Jesus,
Discover Your true worth

I want to meet You
I want to know You
I want to love You, love You, love You, love You
Meet You
I want to know You
I want to love You, Jesus,
As You really are

[Ending:]
And I will carry my cross daily
And I will kiss You when You slay me
Know You as you really are
As you really are
And I will carry my cross daily
And I will kiss You when You slay me
Know You as you really are
As you really are


And this one's a call to our generation to be "real and wild" (RAW) - not fake and tame (FAT?):

Real and Wild Song

Are we generation X-box?
Generation fake?
Are we hiding behind Facebook,
Behind the masks we make?

Wanna be part of something real
Something worth getting up for
Not a cinema world of make-believe hype
But something real and raw

Are we generation playstation?
Generation tame?
Do we blog about our boredom?
Is life always the same?

Wanna be part of something wild
Something worth getting up for
Not a “whatever” world of “take it or leave it”
But something wild and raw

Thursday, August 02, 2007

RAW


It's upon us! It's here!

In three days it will be all over (surreal though that seems, given that right at this moment it's just about to begin after eight months of busy busy preparation...)

Meeting the "real" Jesus, joining His wild church, finding vision and a call for the future, firestarter evangelism, mission with the poor, living the New Testament even when it hurts, meals of bread and water, Holy Spirit happenings, energetic worship...

It's gonna be the most electric gathering in the UK this weekend.

RAAAAAW!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wisdom from the wise

Photo by eyebiz (stock.xchng)Last night we had our Regional Leaders meeting which is a kind of Jedi council (but no-one there has green skin) in which the leaders responsible for our local congregation and communities gather to discuss progress, chew the cud and seek wisdom from God. I love it and always find it strengthening.

Topics for discussion will vary from practical “nuts and bolts” to more theoretical or even theological themes. Last night, one of the matters we considered was the very dilemma I wrote about in my last post – the balance between “grace and truth”: how to find the way of wisdom when dealing with “wrongdoing” of various kinds in the flock.

Many of our wisest sages contributed reflections. And these are some of the things they said:


Seek advice from trusted brethren – “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” – but be wary of mere “public opinion”.

The aim is to help people grow in the grace they have received, and to find more grace; to help them find more fear of the Lord.

Explain your reasoning so that people can see where you’re coming from (even if they disagree!)

Grace and truth are like the love and justice that meet at the cross – not a contradiction, but a paradox. We must be clear about boundaries – this is gracious; we must love people – this is truth.

Know yourself – if you’re inclined to be a “man pleaser” distrust your inclination to “smooth it all over”; if you’re inclined to be confrontational distrust your inclination to “have it out there and then”. Rather than automatically trusting your reaction, find wisdom.

However – remember that God has given you the grace for those you are pastorally responsible for: so love bravely, have confidence and know that God can use even your mistakes.

Grace has big ears; truth has big eyes. So listen kindly and seek to understand, but look out for manipulation and don’t be na├»ve.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Grace can be in the rebuke.

If there is a heart issue in someone, it will come up again and again until it is tackled. Knowing this can take off some of the pressure (of public opinion?) to deal with it all “now!” Wait and learn and the next time it comes up, you can deal with it in wisdom.

“Grace trains us”. “See to it that no-one fails to obtain the grace of God”.

The basic pattern of a person’s moral growth is from law, to social cohesion, to personal integrity. Seek to lead them along this path.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Grace and truth

Jesus was 'full of grace and truth'.

Been thinking a bit about the delicate balance between what you might call grace (patience, give-and-take, over-looking wrong) and truth (dicipline, challenging and correcting wrong behaviour, gripping looseness when it rears its head in church life).

Yes, it's come about because of one or two or five situations where, as a leader, I face the dilemma of how to deal with 'less than holy' behaviour and choices from some of those I lead. One the one hand, 'love is kind' and I must (and want to) bear with people. On the other hand, there are times when drift and compromise need challenging - if nothing else for the sake of others who need the security of a clear example...

I was thinking about Jesus who was 'full of grace and truth'.

Full of grace and truth, all the time. Always full of grace without thereby losing truth. Always full of truth without thereby losing grace. All His grace was utterly truthful - no hint of compromise with darkness or sin; all His truth was utterly gracious - no hint of harshness or blank condemnation.

Me? Sometimes I'm full of grace (just about). Sometimes I'm full of truth (more or less). But somehow, I stuggle to be both - and at once! My 'grace' is often tainted with something suspiciously like fear of confrontation. My 'truth' is often polluted with something alarmingly like anger and frustration.

But the reality is that grace and truth are not opposites. It is possible to be always full of both.

How?

Well, I guess I'd better get a little closer to Jesus and see how He does it...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Community debate

Someone commented on my last, somewhat provocative, post on Facebook:

Interesting note.. where does Jesus say we should hate money. Where does the parable of the servants and the talents fit into this.

I assume you are promoting a Christian community as opposed to a mixture of Christians and non Christians living together, surely this leads to "holy huddles", what better way of evangelising, particularly as young single adults, than to live with non Christians.. to be in the world but not of it, and to share our lives with them that they may see salt and light, because we are called to love more than just those who love us.

Living in community isn't impossible.. and if it was you imply God only does miracles in the lives of non Christians which isnt true.

True we will live in community when Jesus returns but now is the "day of salvation".. now is our chance to briing more people into the kingdom, surely this is greatly hindered if those who see the most of us, our housemates are already on board so to speak.

What number of possesions we have or shouldnt have shouldnt force our hand in our lving arrangements, buy a smaller fridge, go to a laundrette and use the bus or bike or get lifts with a friend from work.

as far as discipleship and love not the world go, discipleship means maturity and maturity comes best in going on mission, mission is our life and so if we can include living with non Christians than our maturity will grow as we witness to them.

so far as you can guess i have riled against the idea of Christians aiming to live with other Christians, as it is next year I am lving with 3 other Christians, however this should not be the case for everyone nor all the time... and the year after that i will be living again with non Christians.

i guess i dont have anything against living in community yet i dont see anything wrong with living on your own as a married couple or even as a single person- though with house prices today many single people live with friends.

Jesus can receive our offerings without us selling everything, Jesus never said we shouldnt live in our home as long as we give generously and dont idolatrise our money...and surely true brotherhood comes from being born into the family of Christ... anything else is superfluous.

sorry if this sounds like a rant i am just trying to think through what you wrote.. some of which i definitely do agree with! out of interest do you live in community?

God bless

So I thought I'd respond:

Thanks for your comments, Larry, I'm chuffed you took the time and effort.

I'll try and respond to some of the questions you raise as best I can, in roughly the order that you raise them...

Jesus said 'No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.' (Matt.6:24, Luke 16:13) The clear implication is that loving God will mean hate for money. (Not that that necessarily means refusing to even touch it - like the early Friars for instance! - but it certainly demonds a radical response - such as sharing it all in common like the first church in Acts 2).

I don't think the first church in Acts was a 'holy huddle'! Yet they 'were all together and had all things in common' (Acts 2:44, 4:32). You're absolutely right that we should avoid being a Christian ghetto! But a people who are clearly loving one another in a radical way are very attractive and demonstrate God's kingdom - Jesus called this 'a city on a hill which cannot be hidden' (try being a city on your own!..)

When I said 'living in community is impossible' I was being provocative. I live in community (to answer your later question) so I clearly don't think it can't be done - but it can't be done without God's grace - oh believe me, this is true ;)

Laundrettes aren't a bad way to share resources - but Christian community as a whole lifestyle commends itself in other ways than just the environmental which is only part of the picture. But, sure, use the laundrette!

'Mission is our life' - right! I'm with you there. And as I said above, I totally agree that we must reach out to people. Christian students have a unique opportunity to reach their peers and I'm not knocking that. It's just a very sad that after three or four years of that, most of them get a comfortable job, move to suburbia and are never heard of again - 'where are the radicals?' I ask myself...

'Living on your own as a married couple or even as a single person' is a very Western abberation. In most cultures across the world people live in extended families with a strong sense of social togetherness. I think the Church of Jesus should at least equal this level of togetherness - or better it! (I'm not saying it's wrong for people to live on their own or with a partner, just that I think a community arrangeement is better and more true to the New Testament).

'Jesus can receive our offerings without us selling everything'. What do make of Jesus' saying 'Sell your possessions and give to the poor' (Matt.19:21, Luke 12:33) and the fact that the first church did just that (Acts 2:45)?

Sorry if my reply to your 'rant' also sounds like a rant! I feel passionately that the church in the UK is largely lost in a sea of mundanity. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to air some of my passion!

I do live in a Christian community on Leamington Rd in Coventry, down the road from Warwick Uni. There are 15 adult Christians who live together with a common bank account, sharing all things (apart from personal items like toothbrushes and - that sort of thing!) One of those is my wife and we have two small children - 17 of us altogether. And the house is often packed with visitors - so I don't think we're a ghetto!

By the way, just to be clear, we don't believe that you 'have to live in community to be a Christian' or anything like that - it's just that we think it's an exceellent way of putting Jesus' teaching into practice and being authentic church in today's UK.

Call in some time - you'd be welcome! And you can ask as many awkward questions as you like - we love 'em!

Phew! Let the debate continue!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why should Christians live in community?

We had a meeting on Monday night about Christian community. To promote Christian community living, in particluar to explore, promote and celebrate our particular community - New Creation Christian Community.

Many people shared about topics as far ranging as 'money and how not to love it', 'bringing up children in Christian community', 'building sharpening relationships' and so on.

I was given the task of answering the question 'Why should Christians live in community?' (in four minutes!)

I came up with 33 reasons. Some of them could well be qualified - but having been given only four minutes I decided not to bother. So here they are... unqualified!

Why should Christians live in community?

1. Because Jesus had a common purse and if it’s good enough for Him, it’s good enough for us
2. Because Jesus taught us to pray to ‘our Father’ for ‘our daily bread’ not to ‘my Father’ for ‘my daily bread’
3. Because in the same prayer, Jesus taught us to pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. Does anyone have personal possessions in heaven? Does anyone clear off or move away in heaven?
4. Because in the same prayer, Jesus taught us to pray ‘Deliver us from evil’ which includes evil like selfishness, covetousness, pride in possessions, and wealth for self
5. Because how else can you ‘lay down your life for your brother’
6. Because when the first church received the Spirit they were ‘all together and had all things in common’
7. Because one washing machine between just 2 or 3 people is a waste compared with one between 7 or 8
8. Ditto cooker
9. Ditto fridge
10. Ditto car
11. Ditto house
12. Because if we are devoted to God, we will hate money (or so Jesus said)
13. Because community is economical and frees funds for the kingdom
14. Because community is practical and frees time for the kingdom
15. Because Jesus said more about money than He did about heaven
16. Because if your were to sum up what Jesus said about money when He was mentioning it more than heaven, you’d get something like ‘get rid of it, don’t have any for yourself, bind it and force it to serve God, be wise with it’. Try doing that without sharing it!
17. Because community is fertile ground for training disciples
18. Because community shows you who you really are and means you get beyond romantic fantasy into reality
19. Because your whole life should be church
20. Because it’s impossible to live in community – so it has to be a miracle and God’s good at miracles
21. Because community brings us into true brotherhood
22. Because no-one’s going to persecute you for living in a three bedroom semi and Jesus said ‘blessed are the persecuted’
23. Because community creates opportunities for industry and service
24. Because community makes church family rather than institution
25. Because community means that we ‘live in the church and go to the world rather than living in the world and going to church’
26. Because what else does ‘love not the world’ mean?
27. Because salvation is not just spiritual or even moral and spiritual – but spiritual, moral, social, political and economic!
28. Because God is a community of 3 in 1
29. Because we will live in community forever after Jesus returns
30. Because ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing – and wealth!’
31. Because it is the lifestyle of true love
32. Because people are looking for love
33. Because all arguments against living in community are ultimately selfish

Monday, June 25, 2007

Clowning in the capital

Clowning in the capitalThe things we do...

This is me and two of my fellow fools for Jesus just before we performed a clowning routine on Trafalgar Square as part of a Jesus Festival we ran there on Saturday.

Colourful, eh (am I pretty in pink?)

Ironically, this morning someone showed me a book of less colourful photos of the Jesus Army which has just been published: one of those arty style books of black and white photos, ‘one man's voyage of discovery’ style.

In this case, it seemed like ‘one man’s voyage of discovery with a group of obsessive fanatics who’ve taken all leave of their senses’ if the rather sinister feel of the dark, forbidding photos of strange looking people (being ‘religious’ i.e. odd) was anything to go on.

I think the photographer was genuinely trying to express the Jesus Army ‘as it is’. And the worldly wiseman who wrote the preface was trying to be generous when he admitted that we don’t like being called ‘a cult’ – though he wasn’t generous enough to find a different epithet.

Ok, so we continue to have ‘cult status’ in some circles. If that means we’re totally committed, so be it. We live in a culture that sees any commitment as anathema, so I guess it make us stand out.

But what I object to is the insinuation that being totally committed to Jesus means we must be – well – fools. Religion, apparently, must equal delusion. What’s more, we’re sinister fools, because we’re trying to suck others into our delusion.

Let me say this: some of the most intelligent, sensitive, incisive, generous, deep, impressive, compassionate, creative and wonderful people I know are in the Jesus Army.

If they’re fools, they’re wise fools.

Rather like Jesus.

And let’s face it, art hasn’t been kind to Him (all those effeminate, miserable, stained glass windows... it’s a PR disaster!)

All of which reminds me of something Jesus said:

God will bless you when people insult you and say cruel things about you, all because you are a follower of the Son of Man... You are in for trouble when everyone says good things about you. (Luke 6:22 & 26)

I’d rather be a clown for Jesus than anyone else’s wise man.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brotherhood

Yesterday my wife, kids and I spent the afternoon with a brother from 4839 (and a half) miles away. The miles melted. They were nothing. Distances of colour, history, culture dropped away - because of brotherhood.

He is a church leader from Kitwe, Zambia, we're church leaders from Coventry, England, and we have the kingdom of God in common.

Of course, as the afternoon went by, we discovered we had much in common on the natural human level as well. The fact that we were human was a good start. And the fact that we have children who we have dreams for; the fact we like rowing down the River Avon, but aren't very good at it; the fact that we'd rather not get wet in the English rain; the fact that laughter is funny and leads to more laughter; the fact that we think Warwick town centre looks pretty...

We also discovered some things that we didn't have in common - and profited by them. Like listening to him talk about the plain reality of witchcraft in his continent. He commented that over here the whole danger of the occult is far more underhand and subtle and mentioned Harry Potter books, which convince children that witchraft is (fictional and) fun. I stayed silent about that fact that I've read all six and am looking forward to number seven. And I wondered - have I swallowed some of the lethargic draught of the rest of my culture. I was challenged (but will I be able to resist number seven?)

But, to return to my main reflection: brotherhood ties - and the brotherhood that Jesus brings is stronger than any other I know.

In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:28, The Message)

(Read about our previous encounter: Ebony black and salmon pink)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Answers on a postcard


Profound question: do we ever have the luxury of tomorrow?

Any profound answers appreciated!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hallelujah, all of me!

I led our Sunday morning meeting at the Jesus Centre yesterday. The theme was worship. So we worshipped. And I talked about worship. How it’s an ‘all-of-me’ thing: ‘body, soul and spirit’, ‘heart, mind, soul and strength’.

I used Psalm 103 as the basis for what I was exploring. ‘Praise the Lord , O my soul’ (‘soul’ being the translation of a Hebrew word meaning something closer to ‘all-of-me’ than the more Greek philosophical, disembodied notion we tend to have...)

It’s a wonderful call to praise, Psalm 103. It declares God’s ‘benefits’ to us as individuals and as His people. Benefits which amount to mercy and grace.

Ever wondered what the difference is between mercy and grace (we sometimes confuse them when we sing in Christianese...)? Here’s a little workaday definition which has helped me understand:

It is mercy that God does not give us what we deserve.

It is grace that God gives us what we do not deserve.

So, praise the Lord - all of me!

Here’s the whole psalm. Drink deep.

Psalm 103
Of David.
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

If this is a meeting, let's have more of them

Sometimes people moan about meetings. "We have too many meetings".

I think it's a sad sign of love grown cold.

Can you imagine a passionate lover saying, "Do I have to spend more time with her?"

But I suppose what people mean (to give them the benefit of the doubt) is that they don't want to just go through the motions. They want something meaningful. Something living.

It's Agape tonight, our covenant meal, when the most committed members of the church household get together, share, worship, eat a meal including the communion bread and cup.

It's not "a meeting", if by that phrase you mean some formal going through religious motions (heaven forbid).

It's a meal with my best friends. It's a joining of strength with my comrades. We've sworn to live and die together. It's a rare gathering. It's joining with Jesus and His disciples at His last supper, the first communion.

It's a total privalege to be invited and humbles me time after time.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

Friday, May 18, 2007

A pencil chewer

Pencil chewer
Theological question for anyone who is up for the challenge:

What is the significance of the fact that the human race began in a garden and finishes up in a city?

(See Genesis and Revelation...)

EdenCity

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pix

Check out the pictures of our last household day out on Tschaka's blog!

Let loose

Sunday morning was... interesting. We’ve been experiencing a fresh release of the Holy Spirit’s presence recently. People have been much more conscious of Him – there’s been some crying and laughing in our worship times as people open up to Him. Much less “going through the motions”. Some have fallen to the ground, or shaken and trembled when others have prayed for them.

This Sunday, as soon as the band struck up the first worship song, I was weeping. Don’t know why. Something to do with loving God. It was freeing and – cleansing. I began to shake a little. God was there.

The sister next to me, a close friend from my community house asked me to pray with her, so I wept over her for a bit. She started to cry as well and then to sigh and to rock and then to shout out. God was there.

Other people were also being prayed for around the hall, and the worship was continuing.

Meanwhile, some kind of fracas was kicking off at the back of the room. Two brothers were fighting. Then the brother leading the meeting shouted very sternly at a load of people who were hanging around in the foyer, “Come in here, in the name of Jesus!” (He’d already asked them to come in a coupe of times.) This was uncharacteristic of this much-loved brother – and very necessary in the circumstances. Some people were being distracted from what God was doing – as another brother pointed out, addressing the whole congregation as we shared the bread and the cup afterwards.

All heaven was let loose – well, some of heaven. And a little bit of hell. God was on the move, and one or two less wholesome spirits were shaken out of hiding. It’s real. This is not religious routine. This is a revival of sorts, and we need it.

But – we’re British! (Actually, thankfully, this is not true of all of us.) We’re not given to public displays of emotion; much less to falling and shaking and other such exhibitions of insobriety.

God is loosening us up. Shaking us out. Reminding Him that He is the “God of the living and not the dead”.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Oh dear...

...this is a bit self-indulgant really. But I thought it was quite fun too.

Something more spiritual next time, honest. In the mean time:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A little dilemma

DilemmaI wondered whether to write this entry because it’s a bit sensitive. I decided to, in the end, because otherwise this blog about life in Christian community could become lopsided, focusing on happy-lovely-positive things and avoiding anything more difficult. There’s plenty of that kind of censorship in Christian bookstores...

(I also decided to go for it because I think I’ve got a fighting chance of keeping this all nice and anonymous – so for those dear readers who think they can work out who I’m talking about – you’ve probably already got it wrong.)

A few days ago, I had cross words with someone. I felt they were out of order in something and I let them know: gave them a flea in their ear. It was something and nothing really – and not the kind of thing I do very often, unlike some of my more confrontational friends (oh, how I envy them at times) – though I do think it mattered.

Problem is, I now know that that person is still sore towards me. In fact, barely speaking to me, as I discovered this morning... I offered a small olive branch – offered to talk it though with them sometime. But it was received stonily.

It all leaves me wondering what to do. It pains me to be at odds with someone, especially a fellow-Christian. But I know that I can’t simply conclude that I should never be “real” with anyone or correct them (believe me, I’m temperamentally inclined to go down this route!)

Jesus spoke of “leaving your gift at the altar when you remember your brother had something against you” (in other words dropping everything to get it sorted). What ought I to do? In this case, to be perfectly frank, the person concerned is really just having a good old sulk. But I do want reconciliation.

Should I apologise, even though I’m quite sure I was not in the wrong and also aware that a leader must lead?

Should I put it out of my mind (after all it’s their problem)?

Should I just pray for them?

Am I too nice? Too harsh? Too bothered?

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Interesting Years

Interesting Year 1981:

1. Prince Charles got married

2. Liverpool crowned football Champions of Europe

3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament

4. Pope died

Interesting Year 2005:

1. Prince Charles got married

2. Liverpool crowned football Champions of Europe

3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament

4. Pope died


Lesson Learned:

The next time Charles gets married... someone better warn the Pope

Monday, April 30, 2007

BaptismBaptisms last night.

On the face of it, one of the odder things that Christians do. Dipping people under water, fully clothed, while a crowd of people look on and cheer.

Why do we do it?

Reason number one: because Jesus told us to. And why did He tell us to?

I explained it last night, like this:

Dirty people need a bath. Dead people need a burial. Orphaned people need adoption. Baptism is all three.

A bath? Ok, so not a very conventional one (one doesn’t normally bathe fully clothed, or watched by others – certainly not in Church meetings!) This is an inside wash, a cleansing of the moral dirt of our hearts and minds. Not that the water is magical – or even “holy” in itself. It’s just that Jesus has removed the stain of our sin by His sacrificial death. Baptism is saying “yes” to Jesus and it graphically demonstrates the cleansing that results from saying “yes” to Him.

A burial? Fact is, we’re all dead men walking. Our sins have separated us from God, the source of life. Our days are numbered. We’re all due a long stay underground. Death is the inevitable result of sin. But – and here’s the big news, the gospel I get so excited about: Jesus dies for us. Yes, for us, instead of us, did our dying for us. He took the death penalty for sin. Faith in Him means faith that He did our dying for us –or to put it another way (as the New testament often does) we did our dying in Him. So baptism is a graphic entry into Christ’s death (down into the water we go) and His burial (out of sight, gone) – and His resurrection! (Up, out, dripping, glowing – alive!)

An adoption? Yes – we’re baptised (immersed, dipped, initiated) into a name. The new family name – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in other words – God! God adopts us into His family. It started with the Father begetting a Son in the Spirit. But now, as we’re joined to the Son in baptism by the Spirit – God becomes out Father! (Did you follow all that? It’s quite something!)

And, as children of God, we’re brothers and sisters – “baptised by one Spirit into one body” – the Church of Jesus, the brotherhood of Christ.

Hallelujah! I love baptism – even if it is one of the odder things we do.

And I pray that the three guys we baptised last night will live in the reality of it all the days of their life – and forever after.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A load of rubbish!

Goldsmiths last Saturday (our all-singing, all-dancing - well, music and drama anyway - gospel event at Coventry Jesus Centre).

Phew! Went well, I believe. The theme upon which the evening turned was "clearing up the mess" - hence, the entire hall was decorated with rubbish. Rubbish which, at the climactic part of the evening was winched down to reveal huge red letters spelling out "Jesus' blood makes us clean".

I think that - fairly blatently - said what was to be said.

Perhaps the music and the drama was really rather superfluous...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I was thinking, right...

Met up with a couple of my ex-students last night – they happen to be home from their respective universities, Goldsmiths and Nottingham Trent. Great lads – good to see them.

One of them mentioned that he’d found my blog by doing a Google search... which made me wonder how many other people read this without my knowing about it.

This post is dedicated to my anonymous readers (could be thousands or could be one ex-student at Goldsmiths).

I’ll share a few thoughts that I had as I was walking back from town. It started with looking at a few largish houses and thinking, idly (as I often do), “They’d make quite good community houses”. But then I was walking through parallel lines of the semi-detached and detached dwellings of Humphrey Burton’s Road in
Coventry’s suburbia. Which got me thinking about boxes.

Yes, boxes: the boxes that the majority of UK people live in. Boxes with three or four bedrooms in the avenues I was walking through last night. Each box almost inevitably contains a washing machine.

Stay with me (you may wonder where I’m going with this). I could have chosen any number of household appliances – fridges, freezers, microwaves... but we’ll stick to washing machines for the sake of argument.

So Humphrey Burton’s Road must contain, at an estimate, a hundred-odd washing machines.

A hundred-odd washing machines to do the washing of maybe four hundred people.

Then there’s cars. Most of the drives on this fairly well-to-do road had three parked on them. Three hundred cars for the same four hundred people.

Now I’m not good with figures and I’m no environmental expert, but it seems to me that that many washing machines and that many cars (and fridges and freezers and microwaves and... and...) are far more than that many people actually need in terms of a strict ratio of people to resources.

Think about this: each one of those houses will contain two, perhaps three toilets – do people really need to have almost a toilet each.

My point is that UK society, living in its boxes, is grossly wasteful. Why? Because there is no sharing. Not a bit of it. Each box has kit for its inhabitants only. So we live in streets packed with washing machines. And we only actually need about half of them, or less.

Human beings were meant to live in community. They were meant to share the resources of Earth, not horde them in little boxes. And the planet is paying the price, groaning, getting hotter and hotter, heading for melt-down.

I live in community, not, in fact, because of environmental panic. We live for the cause of Jesus. But it’s a noteworthy by-product that we share washing machines at something like a ratio of 8:1 and cars at a ratio of 5:1 (often using a minibus to transport up to 15 people) and toilets at a ratio of 3:1 (actually we’re quite well-off for toilets in our house!)

Sharing. It’s a good idea; it’s how Jesus lived; it’s how the Christian Church started out; it’s not how UK people (in their boxes) live; unlike the boxed-in-life, it doesn’t kill the Earth; it means sacrifice; the Communists weren’t able to force it; I do it because I live for the cause of Jesus.

What’re you doing about it?