Your “IN”

images.jpegWe are so spoiled for choice in every avenue today, in some nations whether it be in tastes, smells colours or clothes. While I make that statement I also realise some are excluded from the choices others have, on my travels I have observed that not every one has the opportunity to choose, however, if I find a TV anywhere the choice of channels is quite overwhelming.

One of our many channels recently aired a narrative of a personal journey of a known British presenter, the sub title of the programme was ‘What I believe, was determined by where i live’, an interesting thought. The program as best it could listed people who celebrated faith, they travelled to Turkey to engage with Muslim families, to Israel to participate and understand the people there, they went to various people to enable understanding. The programme I saw concluded with Charismatic Christians in celebration in Israel, I found my self reacting unusually, I found I did not enjoy or could not relate to the displaying of their encounter or experience even though I am a jesus follower a Christian by new birth and Charismatic Holy Spirit moving tongue speaking.

I was intrigued at my feelings. The presenter outlined how welcoming every one was, how they felt included and drawn into some level of participation with each faith family and individual. They commented on how much people wanted to be at peace and one with all people, which is not the side we are painted through the media. The presenters were overwhelmed with the appreciation of the lives of people and the enormous and overt generosity they were shown.

This generosity and appreciation was the over all feeling and communication until that is, they were amongst the people I would have most in common in my christian faith. It actually scandalised me, although I would believe all they held in terms of the centrality of Christ, I was so disappointed to see and feel that they needed to distance themselves from people rather than celebrate in the midst, celebrating humanity, to be the ‘imagers’ of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to all people by letting people ‘taste and see the Lord’. They rather communicated superiority and judgement to all who came near.

I pray and ask God for wisdom on how to know the amazing uniqueness of Jesus and all Unknown.jpegGod has done for us yet communicate the reaching including hand of God to bring peoples to an encounter of faith. The Charismatic Christian celebration lost the people of the program sadly and produced an uncomfortableness in them. This was not the conviction produced by the Holy Spirit but the non inclusion in taking people to God, in sharing the love of the Father. Projecting we are pure you are not, we have to keep ourselves pure and don’t include you.

I wonder what this thought has stirred in you already?

Inclusion has become a dirty word for some, yet we cannot read of Jesus without being overwhelmed by his practice of inclusion. Including the very edges of society that has been excluded.

Theologies of inclusion tend to be feel good, ‘nice’ theologies and more importantly they promote social cohesion by providing a theological rationale for mutual respect, or at least tolerance of difference. Is this what inclusion really is, the biblical inclusion that we are the people of God the Imagers should display and follow?

Every one of us have been some time or another affected or drawn into an agenda of legitimisation, I may call it, beliefs or practices required to find a legitimisation to be part, or to belong.

Every belief system has thoughts of exclusion and inclusion. We, each in our own faith traditions, are probably more familiar with theologies of exclusion – ‘We are right, you are wrong’, there is only one way to    ”    ”    (insert preferred soteriology or eschatology) and it is ours’, ‘If you do not believe what I believe, do what I do …’
Each religion has within it groups more inclined toward exclusivist theologies and groups within it inclined toward theologies of inclusion. A theology of inclusion is essential to motivating honest participation in inter-religious activities and events.

Unknown.pngThese views, thoughts or beliefs are really there to help to make people who already belong feel good; that means the “outsider”, those who have not found their way to be part of the already feeling belonging group, these “outsiders” may feel the impact of both being accepted but let us be honest often rear do these ‘outsiders’ listen to them, the ‘in’. We are required to be so aware that such views, thoughts or beliefs only allow those who are “in” to treat others in such unacceptable non including ways. I must admit i have found the non inclusion was never really belief or theology but when it all boils down comes to a person or a groups insecurities or social defensiveness, inability to have piers, ofter cultivated form an orphan spirit (written about that in other blogs if interested), an orphan way is one of protections and provision. Enough getting side tracked now…

Inclusion should never cause us to deny difference ‘differences would go away if you see things the way I do’ one may say. Let us be honest the denials of difference are insulting to the other, a failure to respect people.

So how can we strongly hold to a faith, our belief about who Jesus says he was and yet still be including. I see so many answers on how to live and practice life in the way jesus interact.

How do you see yourself

I wonder what your self portrait would look like?   I have looked at some artists self portraits and wondered what on earth they saw themselves as.   I know you have to allow for artistic license but some look like aliens with no physical reference to life, others were created in a certain style that did not reflect a human face, more animation, a few however did capture picture like faces.     My point is not as an artistic critique which I am not by any stretch of the imagination trying to do, but to make us think how we  see ourselves.   How would you paint?  with a brush or with words, what picture would you make?

I wonder what great master pieces or tragedies or even caricatures would we have as answers.  How do you see yourself?


See me…

Following creation events happened that changed things for creation and humanity.   Father, Son and Spirit were all involved in creation with the full knowledge, all knowing that the events that would follow creation would bring suffering and wickedness to the creation.

These events had such impact they would twist fundamentally changing mankind completely beyond recognition of his original.    God set a course to fill creation with IMAGERS, humanity that would be the image of God.     Although we now know that that aim of God was never lost the event did change humanity.  The change was such that male and female, humanity lost all reference to their originally along with to who they belonged.   Through the event a loss of all sense of identity or value apart from in relation to his surroundings, experiences and other people.

Humanity became unhinged so to speak and devalued all peoples in all times, to this end that much of our challenge today comes down to this very question, identity and to who do i belong.

I am told by professional psychologists our sense of identity is our ability to look at ourselves as a separate entity among other separate entities.    Practically that means peoples’ way of being at home with themselves is by ‘find themselves’ to see themselves in the context of other entities.

Your identity is impacted by living in culture, in the context of my language, race, location, community, education, family, career, greatest achievement, or deepest disappointment, people find themselves within the context of such.

The great news is that Jesus came to introduce you to yourself and to bring a realisation that our context is eternity.  In that context all those other criteria disappear.  In God before all time began, there was no career, there was no location, language, race. No culture or social structure etc.

We, mankind, have allowed our achievements, our disappointments, our careers, our culture etc. to define us.

God has got a different definition, an eternal definition, you are Gods image and Gods likeness and God will work with us so we can reveal that, becoming sons of God.     Working in us so we can fully be the IMAGERS of God in creation.

God is today and has been since before the Apostle Paul said a mystery has been revealed to him to proclaim, the whole of the bible is God revealing God and this mystery to you and me, it is not a story of getting out of here to heaven but more about revealing the eternal plan of God.     God decreeing and we, humanity participating in administrating that will and decree in our world.

Jn.8:16 Jesus said, ‘If I do judge, My judgement is true for I am not making it alone, out of the narrowness of my own experience, but in the largeness of the one who sent me, my Father.’ (Message Bible) If Jesus said that if his experience is too narrow to make judgement from, whether regarding himself or others, then we have to come to the conclusion that there is a bigger context to our lives than what we have experienced so far!

God through Christ and the Word confront us with what God believes concerning you.    God is set on what God believes about you, God is not like mankind that he should lie or change Gods view, let us get a view of God that empowers Gods view of you is the only way to see yourself.