“Through activism we confront toxicity in our world, through contemplation we confront it in ourselves.” Chris Heuertz
Last Sunday, Rob launched our focus as a church for this year in the first of a two part series - ‘Deeper In and Further Out’. If you missed it, I encourage you to listen to it here.
Like so many aspects of what it means to know and imitate (another word for obey) God - contemplation and action have experienced a ‘conscious uncoupling’ throughout church history and across the Body of Christ. Not so in Jesus, in whom the two are one - held in dynamic relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
To go deeper with God is to be drawn into the heart of the Trinity where we experience our own unique belovedness. This union enables us to see every other human being as a sister or brother rather than a stranger or enemy.
Only when God indwells us can we become like God and grow beyond our diminished capacity to love those like us or those who like us, to share and experience a greater love for ourselves as and others.
Only through contemplation will Jesus’ own experience and words on the cross make any real sense to us: ’Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.’
Only Love can speak these words. Only Love can choose not to react to violence with violence, hurt with hurt, sin with sin. Only Love responds to violence with non-violence, hurt with grace, sin with forgiveness.
We know this transforming love to be God’s grace revealed in the flesh in the person of Jesus. However, ours and others personal transformation is not the whole message of the Gospel.
‘God is not only engaged in loving each person in a saving way, he is bringing a kingdom into being.’
- Eugene Peterson
Jesus taught about and demonstrated the reality of the kingdom of God - the reign and rule of God in human lives and affairs more than anything else. Establishing the reign of his Father (Heaven) in our lives personally and across society was his focus and ultimately what he was crucified for doing. His Father’s kingdom stood in contrast to the oppressive rulership of the political, religious, economic and social powers of his day. His rule was recognisably characterised by justice, mercy, truth, love and compassion in the person and work of Jesus.
Jesus entrusted the ongoing work of establishing his Father’s kingdom with his disciples until he returns and it will be established fully and forever. But what will that really look like and how do we perceive and build towards that now?
In Jeremiah 29:7, God says to his people in exile ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’
It’s clear in this passage that God cares for the city in which Israel is now in exile and he cares what happens to that city and its inhabitants. Israel’s welfare depends on the welfare of her neighbours, even her oppressors.
Would it surprise you to discover that God’s view of our cities and the life of the church in our cities is at the heart of all Christian discipleship and eschatology? In a radical article, ‘The City Without A Church’, Henry Drummond, draws our attention to the future and makes two startling insights from the book of Revelation. He writes - we are destined for a City and in that City there will be no Church.
When we think about heaven, how many of us honestly think about a city? John saw heaven as his own city Jerusalem, made new. How many of us see Cape Town made new or another city we have lived in made new when we think about heaven?
How many of us have taken John’s vision seriously that there will be no church in heaven. There will be a city in which God is King and all the peoples there his royal citizens.
Henry Drummond writes:
‘Christianity is the religion of Cities. It moves among real things. It’s the sphere of the street, the market-place, the working life of the world…Wherever real life is, there Christ goes. And he goes there, not only because the great need lies there, but because there is found, so to speak, the raw material with which Christianity works - the life of humanity…Take away people, houses, streets, character and [Christianity] ceases to be. Without these there may be sentiment, or rapture, or adoration, or superstition; there may even be religion, but there can never be the religion of the Son of Man…If the future life were to be mainly spent in the Temple, the present life might be mainly spent in Church. But if Heaven be a City, the life of those going there must be real life…To make cities - that is what we are here for. To make good cities - that is for the present hour the main work of Christianity. For the city is strategic. It makes the towns; the towns make the villages, the villages make the country. He who makes the City makes the world.’ To read the full article, click here.
On 17-18 March 2017, The Warehouse is hosting The Justice Conference (www.thejusticeconference.co.za) - a movement designed to Educate and Equip people to follow Jesus in living justly or as Henry Drummond describes it to make good citiies?.
The Conference highlights specific and relevant justice issues while providing on ramps for us to do something with that knowledge. It seeks to support an audience of faith-based people to come to the realization that justice isn’t a mission. Justice is a theological imperative – a way of doing life.
The mission of The Justice Conference globally is to build a movement that seeks to:
Rob and I would like to encourage you to attend the conference, so that we can engage with these vital conversations that are shaping the church and helping us to pursue God’s purposes for Cape Town, South Africa and the nations.
Restore the church’s role as a key agent of cultural transformation
Mobilize a diverse body of believers to “Live Justly”, fulfilling our calling as his Reconcilers, Restorers and Redeemers
Catalyse future generations to be active voices for justice in all spheres of society and influence – a calling to live an authentic Christ-centered, Justice-oriented lifestyle
There will be a diverse group of speakers and artists helping us to reimagine education, land and housing, race and equality, economic justice and restitution issues.
We will be feeding back to those that are not able to join us but we hope that as many of us as possible will attend because we believe God is going to help us to go deeper in and further out through it.
Annie Kirke, 09/02/2017
Christ Church Kenilworth | Cnr Summerley & Richmond Road | Tel: +27 (021) 797 6332 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
: Sunday Worship 8.00am, 10.00am & 6.30pm | Wednesday Service: 10am | Tuesday Quiet Service: 6.30pm (fortnightly)
Taryn Galloway, 06/05/2015