Great cartoon from jon at ASBO Jesus today.
One of the best sermons/talks I have ever heard was given by Mark Russell at an inclusive church conference 3 years ago. It’s the sermon that I wish I had written and is about costly unity. If you want to read it in full go here. Mark is the chief executive of the church Army. He began in this way:
When I got my current job the press were trying to pigeon hole me. One religious affairs journalist asked me what was I. I said I am a Christian, a disciple of Christ, someone determined to make a difference for God in our world. But apparently she wanted to know what camp I was in. I had just been trying to persuade a 16 year old to run for the PCC in my parish and in the glossary of the Church House publication for young people, I found that
Evangelicals are people committed to a personal saving faith in Christ
Liberals are open to new ideas in the church
Charismatics are committed to the work of the Spirit
Traditionalists believe in holding on to the important truths handed down
And Catholics believe in the unity of the Church.
So I am an Evangelical Liberal, Charismatic Traditionalist Catholic!
And I thought YES! that’s me, a mixture of all the different camps, a child of God trying to following Jesus in the best way I can. I hate labels, especially ‘Christian’ ones. Why do we do it to each other? Do we feel safer if we put people into boxes? If you label yourself evangelical or catholic then others make huge assumptions about what you believe and how you prefer to worship. I just don’t seem to fit into any neat box and I suspect that most of us that are trying to follow Christ don’t either. I know that God affirms all the bits that make up me and he also affirms those who see him very differently from the way I do. I am glad that God is so big he can accept worship from us all. God seems to be blessing all of us so why are we so insecure with our identity as his children that we need to protect our boundaries.
It seems to me that the loud noise from the different camps is drowning out all Godly conversation and personally I am feeling less and less included in the church I love. I am not feeling very glorious about the way we are behaving at the moment.
Why is it so necessary to be pigeon holed and squezeed uncomfortably into a box? The trouble with owning a label means that it is much more difficult to think out of the box. You have to believe certain things to belong. The few ‘Forward in Faith’ men that I know well don’t want to change their mind or way of doing things because they are frightened of offending their ‘friends’. I suspect it is the same for some conservative evangelicals over the issue of sexuality. It might offend their friends if they compromise on the way they use the bible.
Boxes and labels are not a gloriousthing.
For the moment I am proud to be an evangelical, liberal, charismatic, traditionalist catholic!
Can someone tell me who I am? (Think I already know the answer)