I thought you might like to see a photo of our Bank Holiday trip last week to Newlands Corner, Guildford. Apologies to Gary (far right) who seems to have developed a hunch in this photo – he’s not like that normally I’m pleased to say!
Archive for natgillett
‘Inclusion’ is a word I hear a fair amount these days in Christian circles. It’s context seems to usually be in summing up the heart of Jesus’ message. Jesus embraced the outcasts of society. He came to redeem the WHOLE world (everyone included). Look at some of his parables – ‘The Great Banquet’ in Luke 14 comes to mind. Inclusion isn’t a bad word to use to sum that up.
I would agree. And I think the Well is probably the most inclusive church I have ever been a part of – you name a socially excluded person type and it’s likely that in some way they are currently, or have been, connected to the Well over the past 5 years. And can I say, perhaps the church has been too exclusive for too long and needs a bit of inclusion to become more balanced in its message?
However, for some reason i’m still a little uncomfortable with the word.
Firstly, the word only appears once in the Bible (Romans 11:12 – NIV and ESV). And Jesus never uses it! That’s not to say we shouldn’t use it as the idea certainly appears as a theme. But if we have no scriptural examples of how the word is used, at the risk of sounding like a Pharisee, could it be open to misuse? Is that fair?
Secondly, it occurs to me that the word is quickly becoming a new orthodoxy. What do I mean?! I mean, if we say… Inclusion is at the heart of Jesus’ message – if a theological stance therefore isn’t inclusive we need to rethink the theology. In other words, the truth of inclusion takes such priority it trumps other truths… But is that the case? Jesus’ teaching is certainly and wonderfully inclusive – “He that is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50), but its also soberingly exclusive – “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23). So it causes me to stop and think when a word like inclusive seems to have such power as it’s only half the story.
Thirdly, this isn’t so much a reason as an observation. The word inclusion is very acceptable to use in our culture (which is perhaps a very good thing?) – no body is going to slap you in the face for being inclusive. But, if we’re using words that go down well – at the expense of the genuine truth about God – Gulp!!??…
I’m not saying everyone who uses the word inclusive is trying to do anything wrong. I’ve used it, and some of my great friends use it – and they are more wonderful followers of Jesus than I am.
But personally personally, I’m more happy – when seeking to sum up Jesus’ teaching – to use words like ‘repent’ and ‘reconciliation’.
But what do you think?
Last Sunday evening I spoke at St Andrews URC (Northey Avenue, Cheam). My talk was called ‘Doubt, Dryness and Intimacy’ from Mark 9:17-29. If you’d like to read my notes you can here, or the talk was recorded and you can listen to it below.
What is the purpose of the church?
I guess not many of us would disagree with this statement – “To be salt and light – serving the needs of humanity and proclaiming in word and deed the message of Jesus”. We might want to add some things to that, but I for one would whole-heartedly agree with that statement.
This isn’t a call to stop serving the poor – NEVER EVER! continue with all your might – but merely a sobering observation…
Charities, groups, individuals, even businesses, will and are serving the poor and needy. Great stuff! But… They aren’t going to preach the gospel to anyone. Only the church has this unique message of reconciliation with God through Jesus.
So what is the purpose of the church? Many things, but one thing we have uniquely is a spoken message of God’s judgement and love. If we don’t preach it, speak it, convey it, communicate it, no one else is going to do it for us.
“I’d like my life to be different…”. “I’d like my church to be more..”. “I’d like to feel…”.
There are many things in life, in church, in work, in our families, in our feelings we’d like to be different. In fact, perhaps some of them really should be different?
But, whilst we work towards seeing those differences and adjustments, can I suggest, we don’t put off any hope of fruitfulness in the here and now.
The trick I have found, is to work out/learn/discover how to function/be of use/walk in a measure of fruitfulness today – with things exactly as they are today. Not putting it off to a future time or place when everything will be ‘better’.
My prayer is that God would teach us more and more how to be fruitful today, with the circumstances as they are today, whilst we wait and work towards a better future…
You may have heard us say this before: “The way we live needs to take into account the poor… Live simply”. Or put it another way, “Out of respect for the poor, I will live [this way]…”
As a community, most of us in the Well are doing Live below the Line from April 29th – May 3rd. Live below the Line is 5 days where you have £5 for all your food – ie £1 per day for breakfast/lunch/dinner. 1.4 billion people live on less than £1 a day, for 5 days we are going to experience a small part of how that feels.
Perhaps you could join in too?
Last week in our Mini-Mondays, in preparation for this weeks ‘Disciple’ talk on simple lifestyle, we did a Bible Study on Matthew 19:16-30 – the parable of the ‘Rich younger ruler’.
If you’d like to see it, or use it in your small group, you can download it here – Warning… It may cause a minor ruckus.
Over lent I am reading the 4 gospels again and asking myself afresh ‘Who is Jesus?’
There seem to be many competing ideas of who Jesus is (i’m primarily talking about the circle of those who call themselves ‘evangelical’). So who is he?
Is he “all about inclusion” as some would argue? He is “scary” and to be “feared” as some say? Is he supernatural? What was his view of scripture? Should we take what he says about money literally? And how would a life following this Jesus actually live?
I’ve only read Matthew and [most of] Marks gospels so far – but already I am in awe again of him.
As I read the ‘passion’ narrative towards the end of Matthews gospel and see Jesus’ struggle in the garden, the disciples sleeping instead of praying, the injustice of his trial, his willing submission to the Father, the death and failure that turns into victory – what a story!
I am challenged by the amount Jesus prays for the sick. By his constant moving in the supernatural. Why I am so keen on ‘following Jesus’ in many areas but not this one?
The reverence for the scriptures that he had. 42 times I counted in Matthew’s gospel (aside from Matthews use of scripture quotations) Jesus quotes the Old Testament – seemingly viewing it not as good advice but as “God’s Word”. Using it to teach, rebuke, demonstrate the fulfillment of prophecy, in his encounters with the devil… Do I take the scriptures as seriously as Jesus? He seems to take them as the final authority on issues – Wow!
And finally his call to self-denial. I can’t see this as being a popular theme for many in our culture, yet for Jesus it seems to constantly be there. And in case we’d say he didn’t mean it, look at the disciples reactions to his sayings… They tell him on more than one occasion “This is impossible!”, “Who can do this!”… And Jesus says, this is the kingdom of God… Challenging!
Two weeks ago Mini-Mondays made a return! If you’re not familar with Mini-Mondays, here are some details from when we first hit on the idea.
It’s basically a smaller version of a normal Monday. There are 7 people in each group currently as we re-introduce the idea (4-5 people is more ideal though).
I LOVE Mini-Mondays! Why?…
Mainly ‘cos, in the words of one of our group, it gives people a chance to “step up”. I love the fact i’m not at one of the groups. I love the fact someone – not me or Connie – is leading the evening. I love the fact people will talk in a smaller group who normally stay silent. I love the fact we can all sit round a table and share a meal (something that becomes difficult with 10-15 people). I love the fact that people who need someone to listen to them can be heard and not ignored. I love that it is more likely people will be discipled and grow this way.
Are you part of a small group? A home group? How many are in your group, 8-12 people? Could you break down to 2 smaller groups every now and then, to enjoy the benefits of a ‘Mini’?