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“I used to be Church of England but now I’m not so sure about God”

July 18, 2015

I have been thinking about three people that I met this week.

The first is an elderly man who served in our air force during the Suez Crisis. We had a great chat and at the end he said something like, “I used to be Church of England but now I’m not so sure about God”. He went on to explain that the things he had seen had shaken his belief in a loving God. In particular sleeping next to a nuclear bomb, ready at a moments notice to kill tens maybe hundreds of thousands of people. Living with the knowledge of that horrible reality day after day, and knowing that he would be responsible for delivering all that death and destruction: well I can understand why that would lead to some serious questions of God. Hopefully, he can find his way back to the Church and have people with him to help him find God in the realities of this world.

The second was a much younger woman. She had gone to church as a child but had just drifted away as she grew up. She had some nice memories of Sunday School. She had a gentle affection towards the church that she remembered but it played no real part in her day-to-day life. There was a sense that the God that she met in Sunday School was probably still out there but that was largely forgotten. It was as though the Kingdom of God was a lovely childhood holiday destination, a great memory but somewhere that you can’t really go back to when you grow up.

The third was a young man who knew absolutely nothing about God or his son Jesus. He was a generally caring and decent man but God was just not a concept that he had ever considered seriously. God was the invention of crazy people who either cornered you in the bar or tried to blow you up! The most positive image of a Christian that he had was of an ineffectual man in a dress trying to tell him that having a good time was wrong.

I think of each of those three people – Each of them loved by the God they have either forgotten or never knew – I think of them and realise that me and my church have been failing to truly live up to our calling to be a light to the people around us. I get too caught up with church affairs; with administration, and dealing with in fighting between brothers and sisters in Christ. I look at myself and it is a real kick to remember that I’m called to be a shining light and example of Godly love to the people around me, and so are all Christians. I’m thick at times – so thick that God often needs to give me a good kick upn the backside to get me to listen to him. Thanks God, for caring enough to kick me out of my complacency.  I am called to find way to let Christ shine through me for each of those three people and everyone that I meet. That’s my calling and there’s so much more to do!

I look at myself and my brothers and sisters and see Christ’s light shining, but the light is no where near bright enough. Together we need to find ways to be light to each of those people. I need to find ways for the good news to be heard and understood by each of those people and the huge numbers of people that they represent.

This is a challenge that thankfully I see lots of people grappling with. We are reaching out, we are searching for ways to speak and live the good news so that it can be heard and understood. There is so much more to do but I believe that here where I live we have made a good start. I now pray and pray for the Spirit to give more and more: More guidance and more wisdom and more patience and above all a huge helping of love.

I see more and more people joining hands with me to pray and to act in the Spirit. We’ve made a great start now let’s finish the race!

A prayer I picked up from the Iona Community:

Reshape us, good Lord,
until in generosity, in faith, and in
expectation that the best is yet to come,
we are truly Christ-like.

Make us passionate followers of Jesus,
rather than passive supporters.

Make our churches places of radical discipleship
and signposts to heaven,
then, in us, through us, and – if need be –
despite us, let your kingdom come.
Amen.

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