God 52 – Week Six (5/2/13)

5 Feb

mark-driscollGod52 is now into its second month (come on, be honest, who thought it wouldn’t get that far?) – and to date we’ve practiced fasting, generosity, kindness, persistence and missional prayer. If you’ve been in from the start, I hope that you – like me – feel that this is making a little difference to the way you live your life and engage and think about God. If you’re only just joining us, welcome aboard!

This week’s challenge is a little different, and requires a bit of effort on your part. For what it’s worth, it’s my considered opinion that a lack of unity in the church is the biggest obstacle to seeing the Kingdom of God extend. Part of our disunity is because of considered theological difference, and I’m certainly not going to propose a quick fix for that. Yet I believe much of our lack of cohesion is simply due to ignorance and hard-heartedness. We quickly form opinions about those in different parts of the church to our own; we find it hard to truly listen with an open mind (this concern is one of the reasons we founded the Youthwork Summit, which brings together voices from across the church).

So this week, the challenge is to take a deliberate step to engage those parts of the body that we might have written off (subconsciously or otherwise) as not like us; not helpful to us.

6: Read or listen to a perspective that you instinctively struggle with, and ask God to speak through it

I decided to spend a month last year listening to the podcast from Mark Driscoll’s (pictured above) Mars Hill church. I did this because, while I tend to find some of his statements  on masculinity in particular pretty troubling, I hadn’t actually given the man a fair hearing  beyond a few re-tweeted soundbites attributed to him. While at the end of the month I didn’t decide to become a regular listener, I did learn that 90% of what Driscoll teaches is insightful and at times, brilliant. He manages to apply the Bible simply, clearly and relevantly. He loves and understands scripture, and finds many interesting nuggets of gold within it. Ok, 10% of what he says is nonsense, but that’s a far better hit-rate than I expect when I preach.

So this week, seek out a voice – maybe THE voice – that you tend not to engage with. If you’re a cessationist that might be John Wimber; if you’re a feminist it might be Mr Driscoll; if you’re a universalist, try Francis Chan. You’ll know the person that you should be giving that fair crack of the whip to. Two rules though – 1) you have to give them a fair hearing. Subscribing to a twitter feed for a week, or reading one blog post, doesn’t cut it. 2) Ask God to speak to you through them. Not to confirm your prejudices (that doesn’t sound like something he would do), but to reveal more of himself through this potentially unlikely source.

This week could be the most fun yet. And the most challenging. Bring it on.

If you’d like to write a guest blog on this week’s subject – engaging with ‘other’ voices – please read the guidelines here, then drop me an email. We’d particularly love to read stories of how you’ve learned and grown through that process (rather than just got angry!).

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14 Responses to “God 52 – Week Six (5/2/13)”

  1. Mark February 5, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    IDEA: Ask for recommendations for people you should listen too given your theological background.
    I’m a conservative Evangelical who’s probably too cautious about Charismatic gifts, can someone recommend me something? Maybe something catholic? Something pentecostal?

    • mattthewingle February 5, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      I can heartily recommend the chapter on Spiritual gifts in Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology, as he is an Evangelical, but also beleives in Spiritual gifts, and gives a balanced approach to it.

    • Rachel Blom February 5, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      I’m in ‘your corner’ so to speak. For me, other voices include for instance John Piper because he’s lot more Calvinistic than I am. I’ve also listened to Pastor Joseph Prince because he’s a lot more charismatic and into some things I have an issue with. Both have sharpened my thinking and have challenged me. As for Wayne Grudem, his Systematic Theology is a must read, but for me not so much challenging, as confirming most of my beliefs and helping me put them into words.

    • Fink February 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      Try Michelle Moran, a leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. So both charismatic and Catholic should get you something to bite into! She is excellent and I would very much recommend anything she’s written.

  2. Gordon February 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Disunity may be part of it but the deification of some ‘luminaries’ in the Christian subculture is another concern. Time and again, we have instances of elevating people and placing them on a pedestal, only to discover what we knew all along – they’re flawed and fragile human beings, with all the sin and baggage that the rest of us carry around. I particularly liked Malcolm Duncan’s recent comment on Steve Chalke’s recent statement when he said, “The impact of Steve’s article tells me that we must determine to move away from the celebrity driven culture that has invaded the church and we must each learn the art of wrestling with Scripture and seeking to live under its authority and power.”

    When each of us does that with humility and with forbearing and patience with one another, then the watching world may be less confused. Still no-one has put it better than Brennan Manning:

    “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

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