Thursday, 3 June 2010

Good news to the deaf?

I have been thinking this week about how on earth we can communicate good news to a culture that 'hears what it wants to hear and disregards the rest' (thanks to Simon & Garfunkel for that line - The Boxer)

So often we simply revert to type, to what the church has done in the past, even to what has blatantly failed in the past but we do it pretty much without thinking or without assesing the real value and effectiveness of our approach. In fact sometimes, even though we kind of know that our methods aren't particularly relevant, fruitful or effective, it just seems better to be doing something,anything, rather than doing nothing. However when we really go back to basics and think about this the answer is both blindingly obvious, simple and yet the hardest thing in the world to do, which is why, for the most part, even having considered it, we move on to look for other ways.....

If you're waiting for some great revelation, some secret thing, then you will be dissappointed....The answer is for individuals simply 'to live the life'. That's it, no more, no less - just living the life that God intends you to live - and doing it consistently. Now, there's the rub! If, like me, you think the only thing consistent in your life has been inconsistency, if you live almost constantly with regrets and a knowledge of how you've blown it , where and how do you start or restart?

Firstly, let's start with the 'God of our yesterdays' 

When we were in the darkest night

And wondered if our eyes would ever see the light
You were there, Lord
When we were in the stormy gale
And wondered if we'd ever live in peace again

You were there, Lord
You were there in the struggle
You were there in the fight
You were there all the time


We praise You - the God of our yesterdays
We praise You - the God who is here today
We praise You - our God as tomorrow comes


So whatever lies ahead
Whatever roads our grateful hearts will come to tread
You'll be there, Lord
We will fix our eyes on You
And know that there is grace enough to see us through


You'll be there, Lord
You'll be there in the struggle
You'll be there in the fight
You'll be there all the time


We praise You - the God of our yesterdays
We praise You - the God who is here today
We praise You - our God as tomorrow comes
We thank you - for grace in our yesterdays


We thank you - for peace in our hearts
We thank you - for joy, as tomorrow comes
We will trust you, God


You're always closer than we know
Always more involved and in control
We will trust our lives to You -


The One who was and is and is to come
 
God is the God of the 2nd and 3rd and 4th.......chance. That's what we are told, that's what is so good and what is so hard to believe when inconsistency has been your watchword. A line is drawn, the old isn't denied, but it is dealt with, and you press forward rebuilding a life that becomes more consistent with the God who never left and never will. Does the world want to hear more and more words that amount to little more than theory? Not really.....
 
How about imperfect people, looking forwards not backwards, moving towards hope not away from it, believing in things like redemption and forgiveness and seeking to live them out in all their wonder and messiness, in all their clarity and confusion. In short, people committed to living the life. For me, as someone who is pretty good with words when the situation demands them, I know in my inner most being that this is the way to communicate, I also know it is not the easy option.  Just being and becoming the person God has called you to be and being open and honest about this, learning from failures and past inconsistency, allowing God to weave them into who you are becoming is not easy and requires acceptance of forgiveness and a focus upon hope. This way, each of us, precisely because of our experiences, not despite them, will be in a position to demonstrate something real about our God. Jesus didn't just come with fine words, he lived them out, he demonstrated God.
 
Wherever we are, this represents a challenge to continue on the journey, called to a 'larger place', to somehwere new, called to always become someone new. It also represents hope as God leads you into a future where living the life is possible, where actions and words can be consistent, where you have a message the world wants to hear because it's real, it's honest and it's built on things that are less than ideal, but you have an experience of a God who rescues you, even from yourself.
 
So, after all the words - now to live the life - which is the title of a song by Matt Redman, and really does represent the best way to communicate to a culture that 'hears what it wants to hear and disregards the rest'
 
Many are the words we speak

Many are the songs we sing
Many kinds of offerings
But now to live the life

Help us live the life


All we want to do is bring you something real
Bring You something true


(We hope that) Precious are the words we speak
(We pray that) Precious are the songs we sing
Precious all these offerings
But now to live the life


Help us live the life


All we want to do is bring you something real
Bring You something true




Now to go the extra mile
Now to turn the other cheek
And to serve You with a life
Let us share your fellowship
Even of your sufferings
Never let the passion die...


Now to live the life...
Now to live the life
Now to live the life
Now to live the life