Friday, December 16, 2011

Truly human

Writing a study on Philippians 2 today, and found it arresting. Here's what I wrote:

Mop manPaul the apostle was not afraid to be vulnerable or to humble himself before his converts and churches. In this passage, he exhorts his readers to be humble, but also shows them how.

Epaphroditus, Paul’s friend and co-worker, "was ill, near to death", writes Paul; "But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow" (v.27). Paul loved his fellow-workers in Christ; the thought of losing one through death was genuinely distressing to him and he wasn’t afraid to show it.

This perfectly matches what he writes earlier in the chapter about how, if you’re truly humble, you will "count others more significant" (v.3) and look "not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (v.4). Timothy is another example of such wonderfully human humility and love (v.20-21).

But the ultimate example of such humility is Jesus. In his hymn to Jesus (v.5-11), Paul shows that His humility makes Jesus the most human of all – indeed, Jesus embodies what a human should be.

Startlingly, Paul also says that Jesus’ humility is also the sign of His being truly God: Jesus did not humble Himself despite being God; it was because He is God that He humbled Himself.

The nature of God – and therefore of human beings who bear His image – is generous, self-giving, humble love.

Now to live the life...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lark or owl?

One of the many, many adjustments to other human beings that come with living in community is how you use time. I’m not, here, talking about scheduled time – meetings and the like (plenty of them in community, but that’s not what I mean). With them it’s pretty clear: be there or think of a really groovy excuse (‘Sorry! I was leading someone to the Lord...’).

No, I’m talking about the in-between times, the non-specified times.

For example, take mLark or owl?ornings and evenings, those un-allotted hours before (or after) the timetable whizzes in (or out) of play. Put simply, some people are morning larks; others are night owls.

Me, I’m no lark. When it comes to mornings, I’m right with the biblical proverb that says ‘Whoever blesses his neighbour with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.’

Too right. Don’t talk to me in the mornings. Please – don’t be jolly. Leave me alone.

For me, the challenge of the morning is how to get up at the precise, timed-to-the-millisecond, moment which will allow me to roll into the bus that takes me to work on time. I’m far too intent on this delicately-timed operation (and on the fact that I can’t remember my name until 9 o’clock) to talk to anyone – let alone in a loud voice.

I’ve tried to change this. I know the holy people in our community rise early and work their way through the more important spiritual disciplines before breakfast. They are the larks, and their morning faces shine like the sun. But I can’t. I promise you, I’ve tried. I’m just simply not a morning person. Getting up at 7 o’clock for work is a minor miracle for me, I assure you.

Mind you, others are even more owlish than I am (I’m a tired middle-aged-parent-with-small-kids type who tends to burn the candle at neither end these days). But some are huge night hour adventurers. We have a young woman living in our community house at the moment who comes alive at 10 o’clock at night. That’s when she wants to go off to the park for madcap swinging fun. Or walk to the sea. Or make up a play. Or play an epic game of the Lord of the Rings board game (with extensions).

Unfortunately for her, at that point, all the larks are off to bed (as are the tired middle-aged-parent-with-small-kids types). So she’s on her own for a few hours, wondering what happened to living in community.

The secret, as with several squillion things in community, is give and take. Sometimes people have to get up a wee bit earlier – miss their Saturday lie in of epic proportions perhaps – to join more with community life. Others may stay up later than they prefer in order to join that late night heart-sharing in the kitchen.

In community, love comes down to the little things like this.

Then there’s the issue of time together versus time alone. But I think I’ll leave that post for now – till I’ve got time to write it...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wesley's words

To say the Christians did this only till the destruction of Jerusalem, is not true; for many did it long after. Not that there was any positive command for so doing: it needed not; for love constrained them. It was a natural fruit of that love wherewith each member of the community loved every other as his own soul. And if the whole Christian Church had continued in this spirit, this usage must have continued through all ages. To affirm therefore that Christ did not design it should continue, is neither more nor less than to affirm, that Christ did not design this measure of love should continue. I see no proof of this.

- John Wesley, commenting on Acts 2:45 ("And parted them to all as any one had need")

Friday, December 02, 2011

Too busy to blog

Picture by bizior of sxc.huI confess, of late I've been a wee bit too busy to blog.

But, until I blog again, here's a few posts and things I've come across recently which I liked and thought I'd share:

Relevant magazine on why membership matters

My housemate Tschaka musing about community - and while you're on that theme, another housemate Stu wrote some amusing (and searching) questions about community to a young aspirant recently and blogged them at my request.

Some fascinating early church perspectives on friendship from doctor Trevor (more to follow I think).

Only Peter Rollins could deny the resurrection and be so inspiring at the same time.

And on a lighter note: this vid of children and marshmallows has done the rounds, but since we watched it at both our Sunday night café at Coventry Jesus Centre and our staff meeting at work, I thought I'd share here.

Hope to blog soon.