Article for our church newsletter 01.07.12
Recently the Northern Irish theologian and philosopher Peter Rollins posted the following parable on his Twitter Account (Twitter is a website where users can post short messages of up to 140 characters. Its use is often frivolous, but it can sometimes be quite provocative or even as a means of instant distribution of news around the globe, world changing.)
A story about how we filter things through our own lens, in three parts…
1/3 One evening a young man who is returning home after a long and tiring day at work gets a call from his concerned wife
2/3 “Be careful on the way home, the radio says that some crazy guy has been spotted going full speed the wrong way up the freeway”
3/3 “Sorry love” he shouts back, “can’t talk right now… there isn’t just one nutter, there are thousands of them!!!”
There are times as a follower of Jesus when life will feel a little like this. Life in Christ’s upside down Kingdom so often turns the things we accepted before as being correct or normal on their heads and says there is a different way, a better way. ‘The first shall be last, and the last shall be first’ (Mt. 20:16). ‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth’ (Mt. 5:5) ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…’ (Mt. 5:43-44) We’re often encouraged from the pulpit to go against the flow.
Jesus certainly wasn’t shy of making a disturbance, or unsettling the status quo by saying things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been. So often we assume that just because things have always been done in a particular way, that that’s the only way of doing it, or at least the ‘normal’ or best way. It can take a brave person to challenge accepted norms (for example just think about what the reaction might be to someone in the West, particularly America, standing up and saying that capitalism or democracy are not necessarily the best or only ways of running a country…)
The tricky part is knowing when to take this road. Sometimes we’re too timid to speak out and say or show that there is a different way. We make our faith a private thing and wrap it up to keep it safe. Then there are times when, maybe, we’re too quick, challenging for the sake of challenging without looking carefully at the object of our challenge and ourselves. Maybe sometimes we’re the ones who are heading in the wrong direction?
Perhaps this highlights, once again, two things that should mark us out as Christ’s people: passion and humility.
If you want to ‘follow’ Peter Rollins, his Twitter account is @PeterRollins