This week has felt especially long…. I don’t feel in a good place at the moment, and I think the reasons behind it are difficult and complex. I’d like to try and explain it, but I fear that whatever I say, I will end up offending and/or hurting someone.
Monday feels like it was so so long ago… I was up early to get ready to head into the city with Gary for the Queen’s Birthday Convention at St Andrew’s Cathedral. The theme this year was The Social Gospel, featuring 2 talks from Phillip Jensen and 1 talk each from Adrian Russell and Con Campbell. As much as I’d like to give a full run-down of the talks, I will only give a quick summary of each. If you want more information, ask!! I expect to have the talks in the near future as well for borrowing or something…
- Talk 1 – Phillip Jensen – The Gospel Makes Us Social
There was a whole bunch of bible passages that Phillip used in this talk. It was very meaty and moved at a rapid pace. Phillip spoke of the ambivalence of life, and that of individualism vs community, it’s playing out in the Old and New Testaments, and how that works out for us today: We are individuals, chosen by God to be in relationship, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but then we are also a community of believers as the body of Christ, so that individualism is not the right response to the gospel, because the gospel takes us into relationship with others. It is an outward, service based religion, meaning that our concern should be for all people, and for their salvation. Galatians 6:9-10 was one of the key passages used, which tells us that we are to do good to everyone, especially those of the household of faith; our obligation is to do good to EVERYONE, in as much as we have opportunity to. I found it a great slap in the face as well after the events of the previous week. It didn’t offer any particular solutions, but plenty of food for thought.
- Talk 2 – Adrian Russell – The End of the Gospel
Starting out looking at Jesus, Adrian showed us how Jesus‘ mission involved social justice, but had a much more important goal – salvation. He pointed us to the fact that it’s not an either/or argument, but that the argument is more one of where the emphasis lies, and that the danger is to lose what is to be central, and that danger is driven by a diminished view of sin & wrath, and therefore the cross.
- Talk 3 – Con Campbell – The Poor Are Always With You
Poverty was the key theme in this talk, and how it is a direct result of sin. We see this in the fall of man from Genesis 3:17-19. So poverty will remain in the world until Jesus returns, we can and should fight against it, but we must not be deluded that we can solve or vanquish it from the face of the Earth. Con also spoke of the poor and the rich: those whom are poor are more likely to depend on & trust in God, and those who are rich need to be careful that they don’t abuse their riches, and let them become an idol. Finally, the gospel teaches us generosity, it teaches us to give, to lower ourselves in order that others might be built up, and so it is part & parcel, and we must not replace the gospel with a care for the poor.
- Talk 4 – Phillip Jensen – The Agenda for Evangelical Social Concern
The agenda of the risen Christ, which should also be our agenda, was not to bring down the government, setup a perfect commune, battle drugs, alcohol and pornography, but to preach repentance and forgiveness, that death and resurrection would be preached to all manner of people around the world. It’s only as people are grasped by the gospel that they will start to see the problems that need to be addressed, social welfare should be a result of the gospel preached.
On Wednesday night, the executive leaders of SALT met together to check in and check up on how things are going. We spent some time in the word, led by Sam in Romans 1, and looked at the current state of SALT, what’s working, what’s not, what can be improved. There were plenty of things discussed, and I’m looking forward to seeing the fruits of the meeting.
Thursday night Geoff came around for some more catch up time. When we went to play some Diablo 3, we found the servers in maintenance mode for a bit… So we dug into the word, and chatted through some things. We then managed to get online and play, stopping for some dinner: Chicken and sweet corn soup with warm crusty bread.
Friday was productive, I managed to get through my list of about a billion things, with time to spare. Our game of touch was called off half way through, as some guy came and told us that the ground was closed, and that we were tearing it up. SALT seemed to go pretty well, and after that came the huge setup job for the wedding on Saturday.
Yesterday I spent the majority of the day at the wedding of Stephen and Nicole Gangemi. For me it was a sweet-bitter day: On the one hand I am extremely happy and joyous for the two of them; she looked amazing, and he was happier than a kid in a candy shop, everything seemed to run smoothly and people enjoyed themselves. However, on the other hand (and I knew this was inevitable), my relationship with Nicky must diminish, because she now has a husband, and her first and foremost responsibility is to him. I got a bunch of nice photos, getting to take my new lens through it’s pacers. Here’s one of my favourites from the day:
The reception at Belhaven Manor was tough, to say the least… Having already spent the morning running around with bits and pieces to do, I was hoping for the chance to sit down, relax and just enjoy my time, but my sinful selfishness and introverted nature got the better of me, driving me to almost solitude, hiding behind my camera and being bitter. I came away feeling under-appreciated and unloved, despite knowing better… Pray that in all that I do, my service won’t be to the praise of others, but that my love for God would be the source for my service, that I would be humble and sacrificial.
This morning as Nic and I read the bible, we wrestled through Zechariah 14 again… It was quite difficult, and I’m not really sure what conclusions we were able to grasp out of the chapter… I am very thankful for my brother in Christ, and for our biblio-centric friendship that we have. He is such a great encouragement to me, in the way that he thinks about the bible, struggles with it, and his great concern that others would learn to know and love it, as he does.
In the afternoon, I edited my photos from the wedding, before heading to graceat6. Tonight Mike spoke from the great chapter Romans 8. Isn’t is amazing that we who have faith in, trust in Christ have No Condemnation!! No matter how much we are struggling, we have the privilege of calling God our Father, our Dad.