Modern heroes and an identity crisis

I came across a clip of Queen on Live Aid on Facebook today. Having recently seen the Queen film, Bohemian Rhapsody, which eclipses at that moment, I watched it – again.

It is such an amazing, iconic moment of the 20th Century. It is spine-tingling. The film is such a great celebration of a huge talented, yet tragic, figure.

As I was watching it got me thinking about modern day heroes. Our heroes for the last 50 years, for the most-part, are TV, Film and music celebrities. There are also sports heroes and we also celebrate some amazing heroic physical or even scientific achievements. But, the majority are those most easy to access – music, TV or film.

I recall my father, who was a teenager during the second world war, talking about a famous wartime fighter pilot. He was at the theater and there was an announcement that some fighter ace (I can’t remember his name) was in the house. He stood up and the whole audience gave him a standing ovation. The heroes of my father’s day were very different to ours.

So, why is this so important?

We want to be like our heroes. How many young people want to be famous? How many adopt the traits of those they worship? Not just the way they dress, but the way they walk, talk and behave. Most of the famous people we now celebrate are well-known because they perform well. They do not tend to be famous due to the quality of their character. It is no wonder that over those 50 years society as a whole has become so confused about identity and values.

We do need to celebrate great achievement. But we also need to recognize where this has lead us to.

So, how does the modern day church respond. We tend to condemn what we see as the breakdown in society and, if we are not careful, become insular and judgmental. It does not win hearts and minds. It also does not represent Jesus as He is.

We need to promote Jesus to be our very best hero. We can also celebrate heroes of the faith as we read in Hebrews. We don’t have to limit that to people in the bible for there are many in this day and age who have shown great courage in following Jesus. But if we can focus on bringing out who Jesus really is, what He is really like and work at being more like Him by spending more time with Him, then the world will see a greater alternative to that which is seen in society.

Modern day heroes have lead to a modern day crisis of identity. This is seen in so many ways. I don’t have time to go into it but I know we could each come up with a huge list of problems that are routed in lost people living with very little hope.

We, as the church, need to bring back hope to the world. That hope has a name, Jesus. He is the best hero there ever was.

Trading my worries and concerns for his commission

This came to me in my prayer time this morning. A habit to develop. Giving God my requests in prayer and trusting them to His keeping and then switching focus to asking what would He have me do today. Trusting that He knows best what to do with my time and that He has the solutions …..

Acceptance

If we are truly to accept people as they are then part of that acceptance may require our humbly asking them to accept us we are.

If we take the view that in church we are all sinners in need of salvation, that it is only found in Jesus and that therefore we must all repent, then surely that is enough common ground?

I could go further and suggest that Jesus simply invited people to follow him to begin with …. there were no conditions on their behaviour.  Of course, the radical act of leaving the day job to follow him at the time would require a lot of faith and they must have seen something in Him that gave reason for that faith.  But the point is that he never once made their behaviour and outlook a condition.  Over time the cost of following became more apparent but so did the cost of not following, consider Peter saying “who else has the words of eternal life?” (John 6:68)

So, that means that our journey of faith will be alongside others who, just like us, have much to work through.  As we continue to follow Jesus then His very presence and example compels us to acknowledge our own sin that separates us from God and thus our need for cleansing which is available through His blood. That is something we must all acknowledge and remind one another of so that we can individually and collectively continue our pursuit.  However, we must never think someone else’s sin is more of a barrier than our own.  Like Paul we should adopt the saying that “I am the worst of all sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).

So, that means there will be some things we do that others consider sinful that we have not been convicted of and vice versa.  Whose job is it to convict of sin?  It is the Holy Spirit (John 16:8).  When we point out sin in others we so easily fall into condemning them (like those who picked up stones to kill an adulterous woman – John 8:7).  I believe it is that ugly side of the church that keeps so many away.  We are called to love, get alongside people (Matt 25:31-46) and meet their needs.  According to that passage we push away people at our peril!

But, there will then be people walking alongside us whom we are convinced are choosing to continue to live and walk in sin.  How do we deal with that?  I don’t know the answer but I do believe that part of it is speaking (what we see) the truth (to be) in love.  The love part has to be seen for words alone are not enough.  However, if we are to have honest loving relationships with one another then as well as one party accepting the other whilst they continue to walk in sin then the other must also be willing to accept that is how the first party sees it.  Both parties need to be able to disagree but continue to accept the other.

I think the key to this has to be direction.  Are we continuing to walk together in the same direction in our pursuit of Christ?  To walk in His footsteps and gradually be transformed more and more into His likeness?

 

Boxes and Fruit

When (not if) we put God in a box, we actually put ourselves in a box.

Religion is our attempt to limit God so we can keep our boxes closed which feels safer but actually disconnects us from God and one another.  Religion focuses on activity not relationship.

When we are numb we do not feel pain and can be blind to that which hurts us.  We mistake the lack of our feeling pain for a false nobility (honour).  We first need to acknowledge pain in order to see what caused it.

Fear and being unforgiving box us in.  Vulnerability is living outside the box, a box which is sustained by fear or being unforgiving.

Faith overcomes fear, grace creates space for forgiveness.  Live outside the box.

Fear leads us to look at problems.  Faith leads up to look to God.  Fear steers us to either try to remove those problems or block them out.  Faith steers us to see problems as opportunities for growth.

Battering rams only lead to stronger draw bridges.

We all want to see more fruit in the church.  But as branches do we pursue good tasting fruit or a healthy root connection to the vine?

A healthy root produces good fruit.

Duty follows love, but love cannot follow duty.  But duty may usurp the heart if we don’t feed the heart in love.  Sons not servants.  Identity.

Duty dries out life.  I do things because I have to not because I want to.  Love sees people for who they are and looks to give them what they need.  Where has the passion gone?  Passion fuels endurance and warms the heart like the sun.