Sunday, 2 September 2007

Not trusting in the Spirit

I've been mulling over a thought for the last week or so: why are different church congregations so reactive to each other, and why are there so many false dichotomies within evangelical Christianity?

An example of this came in the last few months, when I happened to be chatting to a church leader about Christian environmentalism. When I happened to say that I thought that a concern for the created environment was valid and important for a Christian (which appears to me endorsed by Scripture), I was pretty quickly told that environmentalism was about as useful as rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. What we should be focusing our time on, said this church leader, was evangelism.

We also see this silly dichotomy in the age old 'evangelism vs social action' debate. And we also see churches so often identifying their worship with only one discipline, whether this be Bible teaching or singing or the Lord's Supper or whatever.

But then I thought that, actually, I'm very often part of the problem here. For instance, in my work with university Christian Unions, I probably overstress different parts and elements of God's Word. My thinking probably goes a bit like this: 'There are several implications that this passage has for Christians. However, the students here are unlikely to take all of this on board, and I would rather see them passionate about [evangelism / Bible reading / etc. * delete as appropriate], so I will under-play the other things that this passage says.' Of course, what this thinking shows is a fundamental lack of trust in the Spirit's work. What I should do instead is teach the passage as faithfully as I can, with as fair an emphasis as I can, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest and apply these truths to people's hearts as fully rounded Christians.

So often we are so keen to get across one part of the Christian life, and don't really trust the Spirit to do his work, that I think we skew our teaching.

As I head into this term, and as I head off to FORUM, UCCF's student leaders' conference which starts tomorrow, my prayer is that I'll seek to exposit God's Word clearly and fairly, and that I'll trust the Spirit to do the rest.

No comments: