You’ve had this experience too, haven’t you? It’s a warm Sunday morning and you’ve managed to arrive at St Churchins early enough to be there for the start of the service. You’ve enjoyed seeing fellow Christians, and you got to sing something other than In Christ Alone. (Great song, but it’s had a nice decade-long run.) (more…)
What do we do when a law we’ve benefited from changes? Perhaps it’s time to brush ourselves off and get back to the work of the gospel.
It’s not often that I agree with Bob Carr, the former Labour Premier of New South Wales. He’s a pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research and small ‘l’ liberal. (Why do so many small ‘l’ liberals join the Labour party? BTW, I really don’t need this question answered.) But I think in ‘Rights charter like a dead parrot’, he gets it spot on.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about contextualization—not so much the contextualization of language (‘charms’ and ‘calms’ and so on), but the contextualization of lifestyle: becoming “all things to all people” (as in 1 Corinthians 9:22).
My thoughts were sparked by an evening we spent with our next door neighbours recently. As Dave and I were clearing things away at the end of the night, I reflected on the evening and the way that I’d approached it.
Before our guests arrived, I had chosen an outfit that approximated the style of clothes my neighbour wears, I made an extra-gourmet salad and I bought a couple of fancy cheeses. Over dinner and afterwards, I spent a lot of time talking about mortgages and extensions and consumer products. I had also talked a lot about work—the work I used to do (before kids)—in an instinctive effort to establish the kind of education and career credentials that might be taken more seriously than my current job as a full-time mum. And finally (this is the killer one!) I found myself squirming in my seat, wanting to change the subject, when they asked my four-year-old daughter what her favourite thing in the world was, and she answered, “Jesus”.
All this got me wondering what’s the difference between contextualization (or whatever word you want to use to describe doing what it says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23) and chameleonization (or whatever word you use to describe not doing what it says in Matthew 5:13-16)?
I was talking to a friend the other day who told me this story:
I was in a prayer meeting this week with a lady who asked us to pray for her relationship with her parents. They were getting divorced after having been married for several decades. She doesn’t live at home anymore, and she talked about the whole thing quite matter-of-factly. I told her that that was really sad, and the sharing of prayer points moved on to the next person.
I’ve just wandered upstairs to my desk, leaving the teenagers in front of a new inter-generational quiz show that pits the Baby Boomers against Gen X and Gen Y. It seems like harmless enough fun. Hey look, 3D movies were big in the 50s! Roller blading was the 90s! Who can do the robot?
But the programme brought back to the surface a subversive thought that I’ve been harbouring for some time. Is it just me, or does anyone else out there suspect that the broad generalizations that are flung around about the supposed characteristics of Gen X and Gen Y are basically vacuous?
In our churches and in our outreach, questions of ‘truth’ don’t seem so important any more. Is this is a loss, an irrelevance or an opportunity? Tony Payne reviews two significant books on this subject by David F Wells.
Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, David F Wells, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2006, 339pp (more…)