Wednesday 16 July, 2014
KINGDOM VS CERTAINTY
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.(vss 3-5)
A high-pitched siren rang out and a disembodied voice harangued me across the petrol station forecourt: ‘Will the driver at pump three please replace the nozzle and immediately step away from the pump.’ I looked around to see who the offender was and realised all accusing eyes were on me. That potent mix of panic, humiliation and self-justification coursed through my brain, but what had I done wrong? I can only begin to imagine the confusion that must have gone through Saul’s mind on the road to Damascus. With all his power he’d been pursuing what he thought was God’s work and here was Jesus with all the heavenly manifestation of God telling him he wasn’t – gutted! I spent several years as an evangelist in schools, doing assemblies and lessons and running breakfast, lunchtime and after-school clubs. It was hard work, but young people started to come to faith. However, this early growth would more often than not wither, as the methodology of trying to integrate unchurched young people into local churches did not work. The young people felt that they just didn’t fit. The epiphany that I’d been wrong and all that strategy and energy had been misguided was hard to swallow. But realising that all people require an expression of church suitable to their culture and context was liberating. What might church look like for Goths, new-agers or commuters? Admitting you’ve been in the wrong and having your worldview put back together is humbling yet formational. God is in the kingdom business of forgiveness and transformation. Mistakes are mistakes only if we don’t learn from them.
Prayer † A ‘road to Damascus experience’ is a phrase now firmly part of our language. However, few get to see Jesus’ heavenly glory in this life. Instead, may we hear and be attentive to his call. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.