Friday, 20 November 2009

Hare raising prospect of Christ the Ineffectual

hare raising copy

You get the point. But it does make me wonder how often we do actually misrepresent the life and death of Jesus and the purposeful presence of the Holy Spirit in the world. For every instance of faithful commitment to Christ the King aren't there just bound to be so many more which seem to portray ‘Christ the Ineffectual’ , ‘Christ the Irrelevant’ or "’Christ the small-minded’? Is the picture of God’s love at work in Christ which I have in mind different to yours, and how do these compare to the real deal reality of God? And of course that is the conundrum of faith in a nutshell. Christian history is littered with disputes, disagreements and schisms over this very point, as Diarmaid MacCulloch’s superb new series and book make abundantly clear.

Perhaps in the end it is not so much the detail of our belief which matters, after all Jesus seems to have spent precious little time fretting over doctrine or ecclesiology, as its practice in daily life, which for Jesus meant healing the sick, welcoming outcasts and challenging the powerful. If we are not trying to make our lives ever more Kingdom-of-God centred and Christ-shaped, and seeking  truly to learn what it means for us when Jesus says “follow me”, then I suspect we have lost the plot. To follow Christ is to be to others as Christ is to me. It is a deeply sacrificial journey, a ‘road less travelled’, which takes us beyond ourselves to the needs of others. And of course it is utterly dependant on getting Christ ‘right’ in the first place.  If ‘my Christ’ is essentially Grace-Less, then how can I be Grace-Full when I meet you? A judgmental picture of Jesus could mean that we stay messed up and afraid inside. An undemanding image of Jesus could mean that we stay well within our comfort zone. Neither image is true to the composite text we read in the Gospels. But the inherent danger of faith is that left to ourselves we will get Jesus wrong and so misunderstand what God’s love, present with us now, is all about. It is when we come together that the shards and splinters of truth of our personal faith fit into a greater, more coherent whole. Still incomplete, still partial, always a mystery, but more of a whole, and better able to guide us on the path of the Holy.

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