I heard one of Tony Campolo's stories recently, Campolo was in the city and he couldn't sleep it was 3'o clock. He gave in got up and went out and found a coffee shop that was open. Whilst he was sitting there the place filled up with hookers who had just finished "work". Campolo heard one of them say "its my 25th birthday tomorrow", the other girls teased her, what do you want a cake or something. She replied she didn't expect anything she had never had a cake or a party she just realised it was going to be her birthday. Campolo was touched by this young girls story, never had a cake or a party. After they left, Campolo asked if they came in every night. the owner replied yes, so Campolo went to work. He organised a cake and streamers and he even got the other girls involved. Shortly after 3 the following night the hookers were back, and the girl was so shocked. She didn't want to cut the cake, in fact she asked if she could take it home for the 24 hours because she was so pleased. After they left the owner of the coffee shop asked Campolo why he would do all that and he said, well I am a minister and I thought it would be nice. What kind of church are you from, the guy replied with disbelieve. Campolo replied: 'The kind of church that believes in a God who throws parties for hookers'.
Monday, 11 August 2008
Channel 4 have an interesting 3 part series at the moment, it's called 'Make Me A Christian.' There are several people who have one thing in common, they are not Christians and are living lives that are opposed to some core aspects of Christian morality. Including a lap dancing witch, a lesbian an Atheist, a white Muslim and several others. They have been given mentors from 4 different wings of the Christian church to help them on their journey to the Christian faith. Channel 4 are not exactly known for being sympathetic to the Christian faith. Yet the commentary and the volunteers were all fairly open with the exception of the militant atheist, who did have a lot of valid questions that remained unanswered. Although I found the show interesting there was a couple of problems at the core of the show. Firstly the four representatives from the church have serious differences about what exactly is a Christian. The second one and for me the most serious flaw was the whole show (including the two evangelicals) seemed to be concerned with reforming the morals of the volunteers, Christianising them. This made the Christians appear judgemental and Christianity appear like a law based religion. For example the Rev George Hargreaves, A Pentecostal went round a young ladies house and cleared away all her witchcraft paraphernalia and told her to stop sleeping with her boyfriend. I agree both of these are wrong from a Christian point of view but she wasn't a Christian. Saul of Tarsus wasn't a believer when he met the LORD Jesus on the road to Damascus. Yet Jesus didn't tell him to clean up his life, Saul was converted and his life got changed completely he was transformed before he reformed. Gerard Gilbert picks up on this in article in the Independent newspaper 'And then there was all the confiscation of personal effects that the mentors considered obscene, such as the kinky personal photographs and soft-core lesbian erotica belonging to Laura, a schoolteacher. The process seemed dictated by the need for conflict, or at least action, but it pointed up a fundamental flaw in Make Me a Christian. This was Christianity as a code of behaviour. But do you become a Christian because you act like one, or do you act like one because you believe in a living Christ? Any theological issues were always going to struggle for airtime in a series tied to this format, a series that doesn't know whether it is being Kim and Aggie for the soul, a Gillian McKeith for moral flab, or just a novel twist on Ladette to Lady.'
I realise the program was edited and we didn't get to see if the gospel was shared and I am still thankful to channel 4 for making this show. Hopefully it will lead to some fruitful conversations about what exactly is a Christian.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
One thing Dr Mike Bird encouraged us to do during our New Testament Classes was to read books from different times and different cultures. I now always try to read from a different perspective when I can, because of this I enjoy reading the one volume Africa Bible Commentary as it gives a totally different perspective. Last week in preparation for my prodigal sons sermon I read this:
'The image people are left with at the end of this parable is an image of the waiting, running, embracing and partying One.' p:1236