Parallels

You know you need to take a break from studying when you read an assignment question and think, “you mean I’ll actually have to go back and read my notes to answer that”! I just caught myself thinking that and was rather surprised. I ought to be more surprised that the first half of the assignment has not required me to look at any notes.

I am thoroughly enjoying my second Open University course and when it is complete I will have earned 33% of a degree which, given all that has happened in my life, and still is happening (ongoing police investigation plus more harassment from dangerous ex-husband with seemingly little help from the law and all the other mountain of stuff), is little short of remarkable. But then, I have a remarkable man for a husband, who is always telling me how wonderful I am. And I think he’s right, which is why, by grace, I know we’re doing ok. And in this life, how incredibly blessed to be ‘doing ok’.

You know what’s really very interesting about studying Environment: the discussions around climate change, biodiversity, recycling, etc., mirror those taking place within the Christian community, or between Christians and non-Christians. People get very hot under the collar about their particular stance on a particular issue.

As part of my course I have been learning to query the origin of certain claims on climate change and to question the qualifications of those making the statements (for example, a journalist with an agenda or a researcher who has professionally studied the topic). I have also been learning to always interpret information in a standard, scholarly way, i.e. ignoring emotive language and half-presented, misleading information masquerading as fact. It comes down to ‘do your research’ and ‘know your subject’, lessons which many Christians would be well advised to learn.

Faith is a wonderful thing, but we ought to study the history and basis of our faith. How will we persuade anyone of anything if we are ignorant? All too often the church relies on wishy-washy, fluffy bunny ignorance; it’s no wonder people have left the church in droves. 

A year or so ago I sat in church and the speaker, a teacher at a local Christian college, began by mentioning Timbuktu and saying “it’s a real place you know”.

o_O

No shellacking, Sherlock (that’s supposed to be a politer version of the well-known expression for when someone expresses the bleedin’ obvious). When I heard this, I sighed and shrank down in my chair. The rest of the message was not particularly illuminating, either. And not long ago I sat and listened to a man explain, for half an hour, that the experiences of Christian conferences are unlike those of our day to day life. That was it. 30 minutes of… nothing, with an odd choice of bible passage to back this up. He then inserted something into the prayers which is a very emotive, divisive issue and I thought ‘hang on a minute, sunshine!’ (at which point the junior pastor interrupted with a more balanced, thoughtful prayer, for which I thanked God). But why do we allow ill-informed, ignorant people to preach?

Also, as Christians who are supposed to be a reflection of God, maybe we should ask ourselves why we need to have our definition of ‘right’ validated, or why we insist anyone who disagrees is ‘wrong’ and to be scorned and judged. Either you value yourself so much that you think you have the right to scorn, or you value yourself so little that making others seem less ‘worthy’ than yourself is a way to make up for it. I’ve given up one way or the other (both are terribly damaging to the soul) and am trying to just be me, in Christ, by grace alone. Flawed and broken, but loved. I recommend it.

Jesus said, “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!”

Matthew 23:15 GNT

Sobering words. Yet:

Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong. If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.

Proverbs 3:7,8 GNT

God is always gracious 🙂