Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jun | 05 | The Christian’s quiet jailer


The Christian's quiet jailor

1 Samuel 25:10-13
Then Nabal answered David's servants, and said,"Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?" So David's young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words. Then David said to his men, "Every man gird on his sword." So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies. NKJV

I ‘accidentally’ found myself today in Trafalgar square for the ‘2013 ‘Closer to Israel’ celebrations. We had gone to the square after church to have a picnic on the National portrait gallery steps while staring out over the Lion and fountain filled gathering place and lining up Nelson’s column with Big Ben in our sights, after which, we would then wander around the gallery and gawp at great works of art. Moving through the anti-Israel demonstrations and the Jewish anti-Zionist mob (go figure!) to a place on the North terrace steps, we decided to stay for the show and had an absolutely super time to boot!

Interestingly, we found ourselves surrounded by female supporters of Israel, mostly Christian women of a certain age, you know, that wonderful age where they just don’t care what people think about them and so they say what they think, as loud as they want. One of the ladies was a ‘Brit-Jam’, a British Jamaican lady, you know, your stereo-typical ‘big benevolent dictator momma’, dancing away to the national anthem and organising anyone and everyone within shouting distance:

 “Wind yur bootiful flag in dahlin, I can’t see thee screen!” and
“No, don’t sit there sweetie, ‘tis ahl wet and yah dress will get sticki” Loudly followed by:
“We should send all de homorsexuals t’Mars, so that when thee fire fahls, it will nat fahl on my house!”
And most accusingly to me as she reggae’d her way thru numerous songs she turns and shouts, “Cum on Pastor, get up and shah me yah moves for Jesas.”

I am an Englishman, all my ‘moves’ were removed at birth, and beside, just one hit from those reggae dancing hips would surely have broken mine.

It was great fun, but for me a decidedly uncomfortable experience as well, you see, I was far too far outside my own ever shrinking style and temperament box. I am in that part in my life at the moment where my personal journey is one of the gypsy. Having in an itinerant ministry and setting up a global one to boot, has that effect on you. Frankly, I do not presently mind, as I get a chance to see many churches and enjoy trying to objectively examine their form, function and gospel effectiveness. I know this is for a season, and because of that, I do not mind, but my wife misses much the community of fellowship with a local church provides. Different needs you see. Different temperaments.

As I was saying, prior to my waving around the Star of David, eating salmon bagels and dodging ‘Spurs Yiddos’ and the wandering East End Mohels who insisted their prices for the service had not been cut in 15 years, we had come from an historic and world renowned church in the heart of the United Kingdom’s capital. We had gone there for the morning service and it was packed. Looking at the congregation, I noted that if you were to remove the non indigenous peoples from the congregation then you could get the people who remained on the front two pews, with more than enough space to spare. It seemed that there were people there from every tribe and tongue and it was a truly global mix all gathered under one roof, and yet, listen now, concerning the form and content of the gathering, it would not have been out of place if it were transported back to late Victorian Britain. I marveled at the costume and color, the culture and language groups all around me, but was bemused at just what it was that bound them all to this, quite frankly, ‘archaic’ form of Christian gathering? Then it struck me, that I was surrounded by a people united around one major thing, their temperament, and it was this temperament which directed their feet here and helped them feel comfortable in this form and style. I wonder if Protestantism has allowed ‘temperament’ far too much sway in the shaping of its gatherings?

Why do ‘birds of a feather’ flock together? Why do people move and attend certain styles of churches? There are five main reasons. (By the way, only four are the real reasons. I shall let you decide which four):

1) God moves them on.
2) They move house or move jobs and so have to move churches.
3) They move to find connected community: Is there a good program for my kids? A single’s program if I am looking for a mate? More families if I am looking for support? Are my friends there? Will I find friends there? You get the picture. (Also note that THIS is the main reason why people stay in churches, even if the church is apostate, and, it is also the main reason why most people are driving 30 miles past your church and half a dozen more to get such providers.)
4) I am getting ‘fed up’ and not fed. ( Interestingly, this hunger for meat mostly occurs after the kids have grown up and moved on, or once a suitable mate has not been found.)
5) They are finding a comfortable style of church to match their temperament. They like the music form and the style. They fit.

For me the biggest lesson I learned at church that Sunday morning and in Trafalgar Square that sunny afternoon in 2013, was just how bound I still am by my temperament and this revelation has led me to examine how my temperament might just have become a prison to me! Indeed, I wonder if when we have made peace with our temperament, maybe it has become for us all a set of blinkers; a ceiling; a straight jacket, a prison?

Thank God for ‘women of a certain age’, whose abandoned self expression has finally broken the bounds of personal temperament and left an embarrassed English man with some words for his personal jailer. Tell me now, I wonder if some of you also to need to have some words with your own silent jailer today.

Your temperament may be robbing you of more than you could ever dream of!

 Listen:- Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” And the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." 1 Samuel 25:17

Pray: -  Father, help me, without darkening my conscience, to break the bounds of all my limiting temperament. In Jesus name I ask it. Amen and amen.

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