Tuesday, 28 April 2009

a normal Christian life?

There is a certain strangeness to being on a sabbatical - it isn't normal life. Let's be honest it is a huge privilege - not many other walks of life get a three month paid opportunity to do things differently for a while. I mentioned this yesterday to Sue, who is an Anglican and a counsellor, and she immediately tried to convince me of their necessity. She had no worries there - I'm not going to be arguing to scrap something so precious, but even whilst I didn't disagree with her about their necessity, they do remain a privilege - and, therefore, should not be taken lightly. The sense of isolation I'm having during my daytimes (although I do have some connections with the outside world), has been highlighted the last two days by Tiscali who's present problems mean i cannot receive any e-mail, nor locate it from their server - weird. It's been a clear reminder how much connection takes place via e-mail for me these days - in such a few years as well. Now, the 'what is normal' question has led me to think about what is the normal Christian life again. I'm trying to write something down about cultivating missional DNA and so this is not an irrelevant thing to ponder. I even looked up Watchman Nee's Classic of the same title and that really got me wondering. Looking at his chapter headings they send a shiver of concern down my spine as I realise how far disconnected most of the lfie of most of churches has become from being an aid and encouragement to things such as personal holiness and 'sanctification' - so much of his book is concerned with individuals growing to be more like Jesus - and of course, the impact of that was beyond the walls of the Church. Hew as writing in the 1930's - a long time ago now, but his writing was a great stimulus to the persecuted church in China. Isn't it interesting how the church under persecution is more concerned about the degree to which they reflect Jesus? So, to what extent am I, or the average Minister, living the normal Christian life? In that sense, this sabbatical is fast becoming a time of trying to re-calibrate around Jesus and normality (OK whatever that is). For that to happen God has provided: 
other Christians - I don't see any hint in the NT of a suggestion we're to work this out in isolation (but how many full-time Christian workers enjoy genuine fellowship on a regular basis?)
other people - 21st Christianity is in danger of monopolising the exercise of 'gifts and  ministries' for their exclusive use within the church. Again, I don't see this in the NT - so I'm off to the camera club tomorrow and enjoyed my golf today!
the bible and spiritual disciplines which revolve around it - are we happy about the statistics in 'pulling out of the nose dive'? It seems in the 1930's your average Christian assumed it was their responsibility to dig into God's word, today we pay someone else to do it for us (too harsh?).

1 comment:

Phil Butcher said...

Hi Nigel
Found your comments on holiness/ sanctification/Bible reading/spiritual disciplines interesting. I wonder if some of it is just to do with the dynamics of the branch of (open)evangelicalism/charistmaticism you operate in. Having moved to a more conservative evangelical network there is much greater emphasis on all these things. & I have come across guys in their 20s who are far more mature in the faith than I was just even a year or so ago - it obviously "works". Have you read "You can change" by Tim Chester - an excellent recent book on growth in holiness. It has helped many in my church. Enjoy the sabbatical!