Monday, 2 May 2016
Grey in the Kingdom of Black and White
In a world where doubt and uncertainty are glorified, it becomes difficult for us as Christians to sound credible.
I touched on this in my entry about a Gospel of Absolutes some time ago, but it's been on my heart to share again.
We behave a lot like sheep. I don't know if you've spent a lot of time with them, but sheep are not the brightest of animals.
They stick together and do exactly what all the others are doing. It becomes hard to break through that cast and develop an individual character. Often when people do they become ostracised by the friends they had and often leave the church they were a part of.
It's happened to me a couple of times where I could not stay because a revelation had shown me the problems we were facing as a body, and when confronted I was dismissed out of hand, leaving me with no other course of action.
And it's ok to leave a congregation if you cannot get behind the leader. In fact it's better for both you and the church if you don't stay. If the fellowship is moving in unity then it gives space for God to act, if it's fractured then abandon ship. Either way, if their course is not where God is leading you then leave and pray for them from the outside. It may be a generation before that body is effective again, but rather let them have their unity in accordance with Psalm 133 and allow God to work on them. He will, but only as they allow him to.
We need to recognise that we are living in a secular world today. What the Bible - Old and New Testament - declares to be abhorrent to God is now the socially accepted norm. A while ago there was a picture doing the rounds on the net of an x-ray of a kiss, declaring it to be "perfect".
To the left you'll see what a bone expert had to say about it.
Finding the debunk was a relief for me, and I've found several articles saying the same thing.
God made us unique, not from a uniform mould.
There was an episode of Star Trek (I think) where Kirk and his crew beam down and discover all the inhabitants are wearing brightly coloured masks. As the episode unfolds we discover that it's because they are all identical underneath the mask.
Gene Roddenberry being the man he was was probably trying to make the same point as the creators of this picture, that we are all the same underneath the surface.
Nothing could be further from what Jesus taught. Look at the disciples. If there were ever an unruly group you'd never see associated with one another this is them. Fishermen, tax collectors, hot-heads and some so quiet they barely get a mention other than to say they were part of the 12. Extroverts, introverts, everyone was welcome to Jesus. All He asked was that they repent of their sin and follow Him.
That's all He asks today as well.
But Jesus sets out absolutes, not shades of grey in His message. As a result He was ostracised and eventually murdered because of it.
It was wrong to hand over Jews to the Nazis in 1939, but most people did it. It is wrong to assume all Muslims are terrorists, but it's happening. It's right to offer help to those desperately in need due to civil war tearing Africa apart, but few if any people are paying any attention to the continent. Governments ignore genocide because there's no oil or natural resources to be gained by bringing down the evil that thrives, turning children not yet 10 years old into murderers.
Evil exists in this world. And it's an absolute. Darkness exists, but Light destroys it in an instant. No matter how dark the room is, strike a match and the darkness flees.
Strike a hundred and you are bathed in light. There may be shadows, but they can be eliminated by adding another candle.
Black and white. Dark and Light.
Life and Death.
There's an urban legend that tells of a doctor calling time of death on a patient and going out to inform the family. They are heartbroken. He returns to the room to begin to prepare for autopsy and the body twitches, then wakes up. Astounded by this, the doctor has to go and find the family to give them the good news. "But you said he was dead!" says a family member. "Yes, but he's showing some improvement now" replies the doctor.
"Some improvement". He was dead, now he's not. There actually is nothing between. You're either alive or dead. It's black and white.
There's no grey area in this story.
There's no grey in Jesus or His disciples either. As far as we know, only John died of natural causes - although some of the more loony-tunes theories postulate that he's still alive - the others were all murdered for declaring their faith.
A couple in Oregon put their faith before their business and lost the business as a result.
Christians are expected to put up with discrimination that would never be tolerated by other groups. I'm told all meat in England is now slaughtered in line with Halal custom so the supermarkets can sell to anyone - they just don't advertise it. Consequently if I go back to England I'll find a local farmers market or butcher that doesn't do this to buy my meat from on principle. I don't want to ingest food sacrificed to a false god. But if a Christian makes a fuss about it, we're told we're being too sensitive.
Double-standards abound everywhere. Muslim communities can freely declare Jesus was not God on the streets, but if a Christian does the same he's accused of islamophobia.
The world works in shades of grey. Make no mistake.
But our time will come again. God is a God of absolutes.
In Him there is no darkness. No grey areas.