Friday, 2 August 2013

A Prayer for Love in the Church

Today, I am going to make a bit of a departure in what I write. I am writing this blog for many reasons, one of which is as an incentive to work through my understanding of various passages in the Bible. The reason behind this is my desire to know more of God, and to make my beliefs and actions imitate the ideal we have in the life of Jesus. However, it is not the act of knowing more itself which can make us more Christ like, rather this transformation is only possibly in God’s will and with his help. That is why the Spirit was sent amongst us, as a helper – to enable and encourage us to live holy lives. This relational aspect of Christianity is important, and from this flows the need, and indeed the command, that we pray. Indeed in Philippians’ we read “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

So, to encourage myself to pray more I’m going to do something I haven’t done before. Rather than letting my thoughts meander as I pray, I am going to try and organise them and commit a prayer to paper (well, to this blog anyway). Here goes, not with eloquent or wise words,…

My Lord and Father, I am yours. Let all I do, think or say please you. Let my thoughts turn to you and dwell on you always, for you alone are good. Equip me my God, not that I would be more holy, or wise, although these I desire also, but that I might be more full of your love. A love that is so complete it leaves room for nothing else and overflows from such a meagre vessel as I. Yet I do not pray this only for myself, but also for all those who know you, that your Church would be a place of such love that the world must stop in its tracks and stare. A unified body, a beautiful bride. A Church which does not look inward, but seeks to share your love with any neighbour. I pray for those neighbours, that they would hear the outstanding good news of the Gospel, that they would love this truth, and that you would save them, oh God. That they too would call you Father, and that I could rejoice with the angles in heaven at having many new brothers and sisters. I pray in the name of the Son, crucified that I and they might have life, and that life to the full, Amen.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Tongues of Trolls

Recently there have been a couple of news stories about people making insulting and threatening comments on twitter aimed at female equality campaigners. Twitter’s not the only platform on which this occurs; unfortunately this practice of ‘trolling’ appears to be an unpleasantly intrinsic part of the web. Yet this behaviour isn’t new, people have always been threaten and insulted. The difference now appears to be the anonymity of the action, an anonymity partly due to the distances involved, there is often no realistic expectation that the troll will ever be confronted in person by the one they are abusing. This isolation from those they interact with is allowing more people to feel unconstrained by the social norms developed over millennia of human interactions.

These social norms constrain us, explaining that not everything that goes on in our heads is ok to do in public, in the realms of speech it introduces politeness where there are certain things which it is simply unallowable to say, no matter whether that is what you believe. Yet if it is our social conventions that constrain us where does the desire to say something abusive come from? From our own nature?

In the Bible, the tongue is compared to the rudder of a boat, though it is only a small part, it can steer a vast vessel. So too what we say so often turns into actions whether or not that was our original intent. For instance consider how an argument starts, simply with words yet it could result in actions – saying something you didn’t really mean that destroys a relationship entirely. Whilst we may see this, prescient like, an inertia takes hold and we continue on heedless of the irrevocable harm we may do. It is hard to control what we say all of the time – in fact biblical teaching is that it is impossible, the sarcastic comment in James “and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man…” perhaps sums it up best “…but no human being can tame the tongue.”

So if it is impossible, by human endeavour, to fully control everything that we say should we not be more forgiving in what is said. Particularly when a transitory comment becomes permanent through a lack of awareness of such issues inherent in the use of the internet. Personally I’m going to try and remove the plank from my own eye before calling others to account for what they say. I’m sure if someone played back to me every word that I’ve said today then I would be sorely embarrassed.