Not everything is Black and White…

I’ve been ranting in my head all morning, it’s no good, I’ve got to let this out. I’m tired of not saying what I really think. I’m tired of being fearful that if I say what I really think I’ll lose friendships and people will put me on the list of people not to talk to or read. I’m tired of the thinking that says we all have to agree on everything to be friends. I want to build honest friendships that are based on a real foundation.

I want to believe it’s possible to be friends with people and fundamentally disagree about our perspective on the state of the universe but still remain committed to each other, loving of each other and rejoicing in each other. Friendships form out of commonality, similar circumstances, a basic way of interacting with the world, from being thrown together randomly in a tough situation. They don’t need to be formed and carried on based around always agreeing with each other. Of course there will be times when they work better because people share a very similar way of viewing the world, we love to know we aren’t the only ones. I think what I’m saying is that we don’t have to agree on everything to still be deep loving friends of each other.

I’m thinking most about the crazy Christian world when I write this.  I’m thinking of all the many nuances there are in this beautiful messy world we live in.  Thinking of how many fences we put up based on whether we agree with every point of each others theology and our frowns on those who think differently from us. The Israelites once had a password to distinguish true Israelites from impostors, true people of God from those out to destroy. Jed Bartlett can explain:

I think we’ve gone too far in making too many things into that password. There are too many words and phrases that we identify with to reassure us that those we hang out with are true people of God.  There are too many things we’ve made into black and white issues, to identify ‘real’ Christians, that aren’t black and white at all.

I am tired of saying the right things to the right people to be liked and approved of. I am tired of wanting to be in with everyone and I am tired of the lack of nuance in this world. I am sick to death of people who are hurting and broken and in need of hugs and grace thinking that God is unloving and doesn’t want them in his life because they don’t believe the thing that some other Christians believe. I hate that people are afraid to say what they really think for fear of losing friendships. I am so angry that such a state of affairs could exist.

I think a whole load of things that I am sure not many of you agree with, and I believe a whole load of things that I am sure you do agree with. I hold opinions which would make lots of people think I am ‘sound’ and many that would make such people want to burn me for being a heretic. I hold lots of opinions that would make some think I’m a raging crazy fundamentalist Christian and lots that would make others think I’m a liberal backslider. I’m not sure at all that there is an eternal hell but I’m also sure that those who reject Jesus here don’t get to hang out with him for eternity. I’m all for gay marriage in our world that doesn’t accept Jesus as King but I think that if you walk with Jesus he asks a whole different way of living from us and sex becomes something crazily exclusive to a man and a woman in a life long covenant relationship. I think you’d need to talk to him about that and figure it out for yourself. I think we’re not on this earth to fulfill ourselves or become better human beings but to love and sacrifice and know our Maker more. I believe the Bible is the word of God and we can’t pick and choose which bits we like. I think it should be read in context and understood from the culture of the time. I think women can preach and teach in church and lead them but I also think that wives are called to submit to their husbands. I think Jesus was a crazy feminist and I love him deeply for it. I think we need to listen first. I think Jesus never gave people the full packaged ‘gospel’ talk but he asked questions and left people thinking. I wish we were more like that.

Most of all I believe that all these things can’t be wrapped up neatly in a nice blog post.

The above list is ridiculous. The above list is subject to change. I might think differently on most of the above issues tomorrow. I can’t write a list of what I think about all these issues because they can’t be neatly packaged up like that.  There are nuances and many sides of the arguments that I want to see and appreciate.

I want to live with the grey, the nuance, but I also believe in some certainties. Not everything is up for grabs. There is a story of a cup, a hill, a cross and a grave that echoes through the centuries and will not die. There is a maker of this beautiful messed up world. He is the author of the never giving up love at the heart of this world. He declares we are dearly loved and then asks us to love each other with that same love. There is a home at the end of the journey and there is one who calls us to walk with him, doing things his way and discovering that was how things were meant to be after all.

I’m pretty sure this body of Christ thing is built around the small number of certainties that centre on this man called Jesus, not on whether we have the correct doctrinal shibboleths in place. I’m more than sure that loving each other, welcoming the broken, loving those who are hurting, accepting each other in our messy opinions about life is more important than working out whether we are ‘sound’ or believe all the right things.

This song from Martyn Joseph say’s it better than I could…

We’re a stupid man, a dreamer
Got fire in a soul
A fighting, writing, wronging
A broken God shaped hole
Stand with you in the desert
Walk with you on the path
And the truth is I’m not joking
And I hope that you wont laugh

This is us, we, you and me together we are home..

Bring on all the doubter’s
And those who know too much
To gather in the darkness
And find a common touch
Got no doubt we need justice
Got no doubt we need some faith
Got no doubt that loves a mystery
I’m holding on to the tails of her grace

This is us, we, you and me together we are home..

I walked upon a treasured land
We all stood on her stage
We all sound checked together
A laughing holy rage
Some sang into each others eyes
Some sang into the ground
We were lost there when we started
But now we can be found
This is us, we, you and me together we are home

Your correspondent, pretty sure she’s going to get some flack for this from all sides, and burning any chances of book deals with some publishers I presume… Ah well.

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11 Responses to Not everything is Black and White…

  1. I have a draft post with almost exactly the same sentiment though frameworked within the context of parenting. But the overall idea is the same. And someone else had a post on FB today that had the same sentiment. So lets jsut get on and start doing it if we all feel this way! love Roz

  2. fionamerrick says:

    Thanks so much for this. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Standing next to you in this. And love that you are also a West Wing fan xxx

  3. Alison Nssc says:

    I don’t agree with you. there I said it! I don’t agree with many of the things you believe and yet… I LOVE YOU. and that’s what it comes down to. The fact that when I’m in Brighton your little family is some of the only people I want to see. That you are one of the only people I will hug and want to be held by (not coz I’m mental but because I’m British and i don’t like touching people) and we don’t have to talk about the things we don’t agree on and that doesn’t mean we’re ignoring them, we’re just visiting each other with the grace to allow people to be different and maybe the humility to accept we may not always be right. but maybe that’s just my thoughts, and even though I’m here right in the middle of the “church” I never think I’m a proper Christian (and there are many who would agree with that) but maybe it doesn’t matter. LOVE YOU xx

  4. Andrew says:

    I’ve always found it interesting how some people use the phrase ‘Bible believing Christian’ to mean ‘Christian who interprets the Bible in exactly the same way that I do’.

  5. Adele says:

    Kath – you’re on fire – hallelujah! I will be buying your book!

  6. Vicki says:

    My list is different to yours. My list is also full of paradoxes and subject to change (as I’ve learnt to my surprise). We’re in a different place on some things, the same on others…
    And I wholeheartedly agree with you on this.

    The church would be a lot more Christ-like and a lot less of a mess if more took the same view. I hope you haven’t just put yourself with the ‘unsound’ by stepping outside the line…

  7. Phil S says:

    We love you Kath. And we love Jesus. And we get things wrong all the time. And I’m pretty sure that’s why Jesus came…

  8. Katrina says:

    love this Kath!!! x x x

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