Went for a walk on a beautiful early evening on a quiet beach not long ago. As I looked across the sea I could see the Bass Rock: it brought back memories of my grandparents, parents, family holidays etc. I started to think of all the people down the centuries who had walked on the beach before me looking at the same view; perhaps they knew peace, perhaps they knew fear as their eyes searched the horizon for a boat which never returned. I looked up into the night sky and saw the constellations so clearly; I felt so small (no jokes from those who know me, please!)
I came home from that walk thinking about the generations past and to come, the vastness of everything, singing a hymn and an amended version of a chorus: The hymn: “The Lord is King life up your voice, O earth and all ye heavens rejoice…” The amended chorus, “I am ordinary and God has loved me and He gave the very best thing that He had to save me…”
I am saddened by the insistence in the modern church in trying to make everyone believe they are special which removes the delight and relief found in being ordinary and like everybody else. It results in an X factor church generation with Christ waiting in the wings while the stars take the stage. It is the essence of Phariseeism and a religious outlook: “I thank thee Lord that I am not like all other men.” It is the source of racism, genocide, terrorism and hostilities within and between churches. I shudder when I hear in recent weeks, “America is the only country in the world that is founded….etc.” I shudder when I hear an American preacher say that only 600,000 lives were lost in the world wars and wars of recent times: presumably American lives are more special than others: other lives lost apparently don’t count…well, that was what it sounded like, even if he didn’t mean it. Teachers and preachers will be judged more strictly because like the rudder of a ship, their words, their tongue, can have a huge influence in terms of the direction that an individual, a church or an even wider body of people decide to take.
Christian living and ministry comes from this joyful place: I am ordinary, I am like all other people and God has loved me…. so many people need to know the peace that comes from this.
We might have to wait a couple of decades for the pendulum to become more balanced again and the superhero, superstar outlook and teaching to bite the dust. I think revival is further away than it was in Scotland, if you know what I mean…so much is being made of men and women and methods…so little space for God…. and yet there is hope: maybe when things are wrong is just the time revival comes….
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