Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

“In Him Alone: The Tension between Trust in God and the use of one’s Talents”.

There is a saying that has traditionally been attributed to Ignatius, “Pray as though everything depended on God, and work as though everything depends on you.” But apparently, there is nothing in his writings that supports that idea. However, there is a saying in his writings that could have given rise to it, but its just the opposite. It says, “Pray as if everything depended on you, and work as though everything depends on God.”

When you think about it, the latter saying is the better one. It calls us to prayer precisely because what we do matters, and whatever we do we want it to be what God wants us to do. So, we need to spend time in prayer, giving God the opportunity to form our will to his. And if we work as though everything depends on God, then if he wants to stop something we’re involved in then we don’t have to agonise over it and be distraught (the agony and distress coming as a result of our ego and pride being affected).

Some time ago, I was involved in the development of a potentially exciting form of a ‘fresh expression’ of church in a local high street. We prayed and worked hard for it, and of course, it was dependent upon external funding for it to be able to proceed. But all along, I had the attitude that, “If we don’t get the funding for it then it can’t happen as we had envisaged it, and I’ll take it that God doesn’t want it to go ahead that way. That’s fine, I won’t be heartbroken, embarrassed, or dismayed.”

It connects with the idea of ‘indifference’, or as I would like to call it, ‘holy indifference’. That’s about freely and completely letting something go when its plain that it must be let go. It’s also about sitting light to things in life so that the freedom to love is not constrained by the love of things, be they possessions, work, projects, etc.

Ignatius said that if his religious order were dissolved, it would take him 15 minutes of prayer to be at peace.

The trap that is always before us is that we can invest so much of who we are in what we do that our identity and value as a human being becomes directly tied to what we do.

And while it is right and proper that we should develop our skills and knowledge in the work we are given to do, we must keep alive the tension that comes from responding to God’s call to trust him with all of our life. The sin is found in trusting ourselves to ourselves or our work or anything other than primarily trusting ourselves to God. It’s sinful because we miss the mark by not allowing God to form us into fully human beings in the ways that he wants to.

Lord, please help me to keep aware of that tension and allow you always to have your way in my life. Amen.


January 25, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, culture, emerging church, god, Ignatius, mission, religion, wisdom | 2 Comments

Loyal Radicals practising Benevolent Subversion

Great tip from Jonny Baker that points to a very interesting article by Bob Hopkins about the subject of this post’s title. It resonates with me, and reminds me of the post I did recently back on the old blog called, ‘Reflections on Institutionalised Religion’. I think that according to Bob Hopkins, I’m what you might call a ‘loyal radical’, as I sit on a variety of Diocesan bodies, including Bishops Council. The reason I sit on these bodies is so that I might be able to bring some kind of change from the inside, defend and encourage ‘iffy’ ventures on the edges of the Diocese, and try to get the Diocese to see its role as resourcing those ventures rather than stifle them. In other words, I want to help the Diocese create a ‘culture of possibility’ rather than see problems with new, adventurous stuff that just might be of the Spirit.

Here are some excerpts from Bob’s article:

“…we have been blessed with a whole generation of leaders at the grass roots who have been passionate about mission and change, but who have been totally committed to the inherited church they belong to and have worked for change from within. The term that came to my mind to describe these folk was “Loyal Radicals”. As I came up with this summary descriptive phrase, it seemed to take on a particular ring of significance.”

” Now mission innovation in historic denominations has two main challenges to address. Not only must it respond to the needs of the dramatically changed and diverse mission context. It must also engage with the inherited structural anatomy that would either limit the release of the mission energy and resources or cramp the ownership and incorporation of the developing church. So perhaps we could combine two other words that are unusual bedfellows and describe this as “benevolent subversion”.

How do you feel about this stuff?

January 12, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, culture, emerging church, god, mission, religion | 1 Comment

Emerging Church set to swallow US Protestantism

That’s the claim (among many others) of Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, in a recent radio interview with Mike Corley on an American Christian radio show just the other day.

I got onto this because it was flagged up by one of the tools of the WordPress interface called Tag Surfer. Tag Surfer shows all the recent posts on WordPress that have been posted that also link with a specific tag – quite a handy little tool. Anyhoo, here’s the link that caught my eye, and so I followed it through.

You download the interview as an mp3 file, and the whole thing goes for about an hour, but you can skip through the first 15 mins, as that’s all just ads and welcomes and stuff. (It takes me about 45 mins to do my exercises, so I listened while doing them).

The interview itself is quite an astonishing attack on the Emerging Church Movement (ECM), with Pastor Silva making the explicit claim of the headline of this post, along with his branding ECM as ‘the new cult (yep, cult) of neo-Liberalism’. He gets into naming names, like Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Len Sweet and gives them all a hard time, while saying that he’s had ‘off-the-record interviews with the likes of Andrew Jones and Doug Pagitt among others. I got the impression that he’s not one of those hateful and vindictive types, rather, he’s full-on committed to what he believes and simply will not give an inch.

So he’s passionately against the rising of the Contemplative movement, which I assume would include the nu-monastic wave, and can’t stand anything that might smack of pre-Reformation style Christianity. And that’s the key really, Pastor Silva is a committed ‘modernist’ (he calls himself an empirical apologist). It seems he hasn’t understood the shift in history that has occurred since the demise of the age of modernity, hasn’t realised that the claim of inevitable progress through the rise of science and rational autonomy that was modernity’s story has failed to deliver a human race able to live at peace with itself (even though technologically we have all manner of marvellous stuff), refuses to acknowledge that the rise in the ECM is due precisely to a modernist church’s inability to deliver a relationship with God that is truly holistic and life-giving, and (I think) most importantly, doesn’t seem to understand the concept of contextual missiology that is a driving force behind ECM.

But strangely, Pastor Silva seems resigned to his prophecy that the ECM will swallow US Protestantism (by which I think he really means the Southern Baptist Convention).

For those not familiar with this kind of argument about the ECM, its worth a listen I reckon. As a counter to it, may I suggest you have look at Andrew Jones’s post here on what the ECM really is about.

And I’ve just noticed that this has been running for some time now, so have a look here for some further background.

January 5, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, culture, emerging church, mission, religion | 1 Comment