Thursday, 25 February 2016

Nothing Less than Radical Will Do

The talk of the news is the fear of radicalisation, how to stop people being radicalised and so on. For sure it is a real problem. The real issue though is not so much radicalisation itself, but the direction of radical thinking & action.

The thinking, teaching and actions of Jesus were radical, and still are today. As followers of Jesus we need to be radical! Yet not radical in the direction of controlling people, killing people, doing terrorist acts and the like. No, radical in the direction of Jesus. A direction that calls for laying down power, shunning violence, no longer asserting control. A direction that releases people, restores people, enables them to flourish.

Steve Chalke with the Oasis Trust says "If we are going to overcome the escalating problem of extremism and terrorism that our world faces, we need a different answer. We need to find a narrative that is radical enough to turn the tide". On this point I agree with him - and that narrative is Jesus Christ.

Our Western consumer/individualist culture has dumbed our senses, and seduced us into non-radical lives. Maybe our younger generation, especially those disaffected in any way from the soup of consumer living, are searching for something, a cause, a radical way of living. Will we offer them the radical way of Jesus, or will a lack of distinctiveness in us mean that they believe there is only one option ... that of radicalisation in a different direction?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Back to Ekklesia

Say the word 'church' and what comes to mind? For Christians hopefully not a building ... but the mentality might not be not far off. Rather than physical stones or bricks there may be building blocks in the form of activities or ministries that people assume must be in place. Often that range may be extensive, even if the church is small in number, perhaps resulting in an anxiety that unless this or that is in place then this is not really church.

Such a mindset is detached from the New Testament use of the Greek word 'ekklesia', which at its most basic simply means a group of people called together. There is no special requirement for any particular ministry or activity, other than being called together by the Spirit to live as Christ's followers presumably as some form of community.

That definition can apply to a group of any size - starting with a mere handful. Their legitimate anxiety need only be 'are we living for Christ as the Spirit would have us do?', rather than 'do we have ministry X, Y or Z?'. Presumably the Spirit will call them to do things that they can achieve (at least with the Spirit's supernatural help!), and it will be tailored for the people involved, rather than a cloned blueprint of a.n.other church.

We need to re-calibrate our mindsets back to ekklesia, and be both formed and led by the Spirit as He will ... not by our preconceived expectations.