Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Great Divorce

In the Gospels, we see that Jesus has very clear expectations concerning the consequence of faithful living:

fruitfulness – expressed as healing for the sick, deliverance for those afflicted by the demonic, and restoration into community for the marginalised;

and opposition, up to and including persecution.

Moreover, these predictive assumptions are seen to have been borne out in the life of the early church, as communities of faith struggled to live faithfully (and let us not pretend that it was not a struggle).

In the UK church today, we have largely divorced faithfulness from any consequence.  This is not to say that faith does not give birth to events – it clearly does, in many churches across the nation who are engaging with the wider communities in which they are set – but that it is possible, and indeed commonplace, to imagine a faithfulness which does not.  We believe faithfulness to exist as a thing unto itself.  As such, the measure of faithfulness is not empirical, but defined by our own belief that we are faithful Christians.  If our lives do not bear fruit, that is because we live in a society that is apathetic towards the gospel.  If our lives do not attract opposition and persecution, that is because we live in a society that is apathetic towards the gospel.  And this may be true: but then, if apathy is the only response to the gospel, we must question the gospel being presented.  And if we are faithful Christians – and I am sure that we are faithful Christians – we must ask the question of ourselves: is our faithfulness the kind of faithfulness Jesus expects, or not?

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