Kind

I have had a traumatic time. I demand that you feel sorry for me. I have actually unfollowed people on Social Media. Well I am still working out how to actually unfollow someone on Facebook but I am determined and I will do it (eventually). Instagram was easy so I ditched a couple there. I have replaced them with a few people who put up photos of their kitchen cupboards and I am at peace. My reason for all this chopping and changing is that I’m a bit bored by the lack of kindness. The latest hoo-ha is around Eugene Peterson. In case you don’t know, Eugene Peterson, wrote The Message (Yes, I know, I know as it is a kind of Bible translation you could argue God wrote it but you get my drift.) He wrote things like this

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life (Philippians 4 6)

and this


Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11 28)

He is, indubitably, a “good thing”

He is also 83 and, I would say, very much in the “When Jesus says ‘Well Done'” category. Recently, in an interview, he was asked the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS. All Christians who are being interviewed or have dipped their teeniest of toes in the waters of leadership must have a satisfactory answer to the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS. The question being, obviously, “Where are you on the old same sex attraction thing?” (It will usually be phrased more elegantly than that)
Pastor Eugene’s reply, when asked the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS, was a bit non-committal. He had known gay people in his church. Some were in positions of leadership, their sexuality hadn’t seemed to be the most interesting thing about them. He felt that he could do a same sex marriage blessing. 
Well, this certainly put the cat among the chickens/pigeons/other feathered things. In fact, there were probably more cats than there were clucky things. It was carnage. People on Social Media were queuing up to condemn, to stand up for “pure theology” and to generally make sure that right won out. A bookshop said that it would no longer stock his books. Within 24 hours Pastor Eugene had withdrawn his statement. He was then roundly condemned by the LGBT community. 
Now, as you know, I don’t claim to have all knowledge about this subject. I have personal experience because my brother really struggled with church after he came out as gay, but I’ll be honest – I dunno. I’m still working through it. However I do know that I am quite perturbed about the way we react to people who make any kind of statement we don’t like when asked the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS. Everyone rushes to take up their positions to defend their little corner of theology. You must all know where I stand and understand that “I am correct on this and God agrees with me.” Then, when we are nasty with people (and some people can be very nasty indeed) it is excused because we are standing up for the Bible or for an oppressed minority depending on which way your particular mop flops. Reasoned person to person debate, where people can ask one another difficult questions without fearing the wrath of an entire community, seems to have disappeared. People could ask Jesus anything. They asked really stupid questions sometimes and they did make him sigh deeply but all genuine questions were answered thoughtfully without bullying. 
My old mother used to say that you should never wash your dirty washing in public. It’s true. Christians are genuinely struggling with these questions and Social Media is not helping us to be rational or reasoned or even more importantly – kind. So I’m not engaging. I’m not joining in and I’m not watching. I’m not getting involved when “Conservative Christians” subtly suggest that their hotline to God gives them “Defender of the Faith” status and I’m not putting up a flag for those whose belief in “Progressive Faith” give them the right to smugly patronise those who are not “as far along the road” as they are. I’m not withdrawing from seeking or talking nicely. I’m just not very good at all the one-upmanship. Maybe others feel called to that. I don’t. Rant over.

Our Father is kind; you be kind (Luke 6 36 The Message)

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6 Comments

  1. July 19, 2017 / 6:23 pm

    I find it difficult to understand the need to be nasty, especially on so called Social media. Is it attention seeking? Is it simply needing to have the last word? Is it to offer indubitable proof that one is RIGHT?
    I grew up in the wrong generation maybe.

    • July 20, 2017 / 8:25 am

      In the future I think cleverer people than me will say that this was very complicated. People are able to vent frustrations without having to do so face to face. People are jealous of others and their achievements. I even read somewhere that this is replacing public punishments such as the stocks or ducking stools so it is not as modern a thing as we think.

  2. July 19, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    Some people just seem to want to hurt others for the sake of it. I was SO upset about what happened to Tim Farron. Trying to be kind today, knowing I dont have all the answers and I'll probably get it wrong sometimes. But still trying my best to love people, cos Jesus told me to…

  3. July 20, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Yes, I thought it was awful too. I saw something on Twitter that asked why Christian Theresa May or Muslim Saddiq Khan wasn't asked the same questions. It seemed like it was a deliberate targeting to me.

  4. July 22, 2017 / 11:15 pm

    Eugene Peterson – I saw him for the first time recently (not in person, I mean, just videoed) in the very wonderful "Live At God Speed" film. If you haven't seen it, I totally recommend it. Amusingly – since it's basically about a) slowing down and b) connecting – it takes forever to load but is so worth the wait. When their study materials are ready, we're hoping to spend some evenings exploring it at church. I liked Eugene Peterson's face. And I love "The Message".
    The "Live At God Speed" film is here ~ https://www.livegodspeed.org/watchgodspeed

    • July 23, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      I like his face too and the way he talks. Thanks for the link. Will have a watch.

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