Some days I have moments of clarity. Unfortunately they are few and far between. Since I became a regular part of the congregations here in the outskirts of Leeds I have been trying to explain the complexity of Christian ethics. We live in a world that is quite different to the ancient world. The ethical dilemmas we face today are undoubtedly inconcievable to the gospel writers. And what would Moses make of the internet? What would he say about my sitting here and typing this? The question in itself makes my mind boggle as I contemplate my own inability to make sense of the implications of immediate communication and instant gratification in a world where our friends become status updates. Let alone contemplate something like the production of electricity by splitting atoms.
As Christians we are often led to believe that there are two options open to us. Certainly, the common caricatures we are presented with are such. One option is that the world is a cut and dried black and white place and that the bible will give us clear answers to all our questions. ‘What would Jesus do? Let’s have a look in the instruction manual’. The other is to assert that much of our heritage is outdated and outmoded and must be jettisoned as we forge our own way.
And this is where I have found myself for the last year struggling to articulate that there is something much more radical at the heart of our scriptures. As Steve Chalke said earlier in the year at Spring Harvest, neither of these positions take the scriptures seriously. How does our story connect with God’s story?
…story really matters. At the heart of our action is a story that informs that action. To take up our cross is an act. But to know why we take up our cross is a story. The opposite is true. If we don’t know why we should take up the cross, we’re not likely to do so.The brilliance of this question is the understanding that story informs our actions at the subconscious level. Our bodies learn a story about why and then agree to that story. This contract creates the basis for action at the subconscious level so we don’t have to continually think about it all the time. We can act from an informed position at a very fast pace.
It is through connecting our stories with God’s story that we can understand what His character is like. When we understand the more fundamental aspects of God’s character and discover more of what he shared with us as he walk the earth, the more we will be able to act in that manner.
Janathan’s thoughts are based upon a quotation from a book by Willard. Check it out via Jonathan’s blog.