Thursday, April 06, 2006

The shape of obedience

Listening to the Secret machines - good stuff. Reading Richard Hays' on Paul's use of the OT - brilliant, essential. Watching a DVD on new ways of being church - inspiring; lots of good models; plenty to think about (called Expressions: the dvd).

I've talked about this before, but there are so many things to keep an eye on in this job that it's sometimes hard to know where to focus.

We're about to go to Spring Harvest and after that I'm involved in the Baptist Assembly - so those things outside the immediate life of the church are pressing. Then there are meetings with people about getting a housing advice centre off the ground with other churches and statutory sector partners - so the mission of the church locally is pressing. Then there's the regular life of the church with the ups and downs of peoples' health, with niggles over roles and how we organise things, with preaching and teaching, leading worship, etc - so the internal life of the church is pressing.

It's all very stimulating and I know how fortunate I am to be in this position compared with so many who don't find their jobs as energising. I just wish there were 8 days in a week!

Yesterday I was particularly thinking about how we help people to think in a biblical way about the world we live in. Preparing for Palm Sunday, I've been struck about the competing expectations and understandings people had about the messiah and whether Jesus fitted the bill.

John paints a picture of different crowds ebbing and flowing around Jesus, welcoming him, badgering him, criticising him, wanting a slice of the action. And at the centre is Jesus, a still point in a swirling world, though clearly anguished at what lay ahead of him. His desire was to help those around him see things as he saw them.

Hays argues that this was Paul's intention in his letters. He calls it 'the conversion of the imagination' which I think is a wonderful phrase, encapsulating the need for us to to allow our whole thought process to be transformed by God, so that we look at, interact with and feel differently about the world we live in. Hays says that this happens through correctly reading the Bible. I agree. And I'd add that the Holy Spirit has a key role to play in taking and applying scripture to our thought processes.

The portrait of Jesus in John 12 is a portrait of an obedient Son under great pressure. He writes it to tell us what happened. But he also writes it to show us - obedient children - the shape of lives lived out of the still centre of obedience to God and his purposes. He writes to shape our thinking and hence our living. Jesus could only do what he did because he knew who he was under God, knowledge forged by the Word and the Spirit.

1 comment:

Alcuin Bramerton said...

Spring Harvest? If you were God, Simon, would you want to be worshipped? What sort of person would that make you?