Sunday, 30 June 2013

So what is my Job? - Modelling

Part the second of my surrejoinder to the comments below focuses on the issue of 'modelling'.

I wrote:

'Those who are happy to come to the show and sing the happy songs and have their ears tickled - the day is coming when the battle will be engaged and you will find yourself 'not fit for purpose' - time to 'man up Church!

To which I received this response:

'How much more emotional manipulation are you going to employ on your site to get people to be doing what you, Vic, think people should be doing?

This isn't your job, Vic - your job is to seek after God and put yourself at his disposal.  Be loved by him and then love others as you are loved.

Your job is not to guilt-trip, embarrass or intimidate people into conforming to your ideology... this is the fast-track to burn-out.

Come back to me on this one, and tell me why I'm wrong.'

So I am doing exactly that.

The words, 'Your job is to seek after God and put yourself at his disposal. Be loved by him and then love others as you are loved,' are spot on and if each of us assume that were we to do this, all would be sweetness and light

.As a Christian, what you have described is the bedrock of my baptismal calling. What you have described is also correctly described as 'my job' in that, as a minister of the Gospel, this is indeed a part of my job too! This Leviticus 19 passage:

‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.'

Is someing in which we find the way of peaceful co-existence with others, for if we treat others as we treat ourselves then all will be well, won't it? Well it should be but this is often a one-sided transaction (but that still doesn't stop us, does it?) and the very act of trying to live in such a way is, at times, regarded as aggressive, arrogant or condemnatory; and if the way we treat ourselves and the 'love' we endow upon ourselves is 'different' to that which others consider to be love ( for instance 'permissive' or 'disciplined') then it become the path of conflict rather than peace.

For me, the tension becomes more marked, and demanding, when we unite those words with Deuteronomy 6 (something we often do in our Eucharist):

'Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.'

For what we have now is an 'In, Out and Up' situation: Ourselves - Others - God

So I would answer to the call my critic makes regarding Leviticus 19 is that it is but the starting point not the pinnacle and with Deuteronomic utterances added, is something transformational and amazing. And my role is to model this and to live as a disciple in such a way that others can see me (warts and all) and hopefully in that point towards Him whom I (we) serve.

You see the reality is that my personal call, and responsibility, is to live out the realities about in such a way that others see this 'difference' and it challenges them to ask, 'How can I have that?' As I model the life (and attitudes) of a 'God lover' I model the life and attitudes of Him whom I follow, Jesus, and as I love - I encourage others to love in the same way for the same reason.

I am called to love the LORD (YHWH) with all my being - mental, emotional, spiritual and physical - and it is this that leads me to do more than just be happy. More than just be content to consume, for as my critic implies, the loving of others is an active, being out there part of the Christian life.

Unlike some of the advert's that tug at the heartstrings, we do not employ emotional manipulation (unless if course you think the cross and crucifixion is such) and we do not beat people into submission (verbally or physically) but rather we 'model' Christ. As I encounter those of no particular (and sometimes none) faith, I often hear them utter the words, 'I wish I could have your faith,' or the equally sad, 'I wish I could do what you do!' The reality is that they can have both and even if they don't embrace my faith, can still make the latter theirs (for non-theists do good stuff too!).

So I consider that I have not only a right, but a responsibility, to tell others that their life choices are not the best open to them. I also consider that this right demands that I practice what I preach, for there is no room for hypocrites in the Church, and model what is the right way in exactly the same way Jesus modelled it in NewTestament times.

If my thinking is right then, unless we consider Jesus to have used guilt-trips or intimidation that embarrased people (and I'm sure He never did that!), then I'm speaking the truth in love - another essential piece of modelling in a time when we so often neither live or speak truth, choosing merely to issue spin and deviance!

My call as Christian, and pastor, is therefore to model - and to do this in the manner, and in the footsteps, of Jesus - and I happen to think that this is what my words are doing.

Let those who have ears, let them listen - and for those who won't, or don't?

To quote Don McLean (Vincent):

'They would not listen, they're not listening still'

ps. It's no accident that I have kept this in the Old Testament - for it underpins the New and needs to be used as it deserves and demands. We are based on, and reside in, the whole word. Once we edit or re-invent we head for a world of potential self-justification rather than willing obedience :-)


UKViewer said...

Well said.

Your model will do for me.

Anonymous said...

@nickygumbel: A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.

Anonymous said...

Your critic is correct in all they say: You are mean, cruel, heartless and judgmental and it is because of people like you that the Church goes out and does things and bothers people.

You should stop immediately and learn that all God wants is us to be happy with our own choices and if this means singing "happy songs" and choosing the sermons we want to listen too then this is right!

After all, look at the epsicopalian church this sort of thing hasn't done them any harm has it/