Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sowing and Reaping

imagesCAVM1EMMI very nearly turned back inside. The front door at the office shuddered against the onslaught of wind and rain, and so did I.

There I was, all psyched up in my running gear, yellow rain jacket and everything, muscles all stretched and warmed up, ready and itching to run for the first time in a week.

But looking out at the crazy weather, this hardy runner thought “No, I’ll just drive home, to the warm and dry!”

For some strange reason, I changed my mind and ventured out into the wild January gales, and had the most enjoyable, exhilarating run I’d had for months.

Battling through the wind and rain was invigorating, miles flew by and I tore up hills effortlessly. (OK, so that last statement was a bit of writer’s hyperbole!)

It was a stress-busting run. One that raised endorphins; improved my mood no end. And it felt so good that after weeks and weeks of naff running due to endless colds, back pain and poor sleep, my fitness finally seemed to have turned a corner.

And as I ran, I thought of these words from Ecclesiastes:

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap”.

When these words were written thousands of years ago, they’d have been so pertinent to the farming communities of the day and would have been easily understood as a proverbial statement for all kinds of situations.

Not quite the same as:

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”;

but similar.

On this wild winter’s day, as I flew up those hills (again, hyperbole!) and considered how I’d have missed out on such a great run if I’d listened to my meteorological apprehensions, I saw a parallel between this verse, that run and my blogging…

Me on my soap box again! (Trying not to crush it)

Me on my soap box again! (Trying not to crush it)

Responses to my blogs have been somewhat polarised. To some, the views I express are completely uncontroversial, maybe even uninteresting; to others they’re music to the ears; to some the blogs are thought-provoking; and to still others, my views are verging on heretical!

The variety of responses is unsurprising. But like most people, I like to be liked, and it’s very tempting to write to please this or that audience.

In Discovering the Value of Uncertainty (on the We Occupy Jesus (WOJ) blog), I made the mistake of directing criticism at conservative evangelicals, leading to some understandably defensive responses from one or two who felt that I’d misrepresented their viewpoint. On reflection, I realised I’d been playing up to a certain kind of anti-fundamentalist audience and I apologised to those concerned (although I stand by the bulk of the article).

My goal in writing is not to attack any particular school of thought, whether atheism or Christian fundamentalism, however distant I may feel from both those extremes.

[For those who are interested in different ‘types’ of Christianity: I recently came across the term ‘progressive Christianity’ and realised that I’m not alone in my way of thinking; that there is a movement or term that profoundly resonates with me.

I wrote before about the problem of labels in Labelled with Love and, while not wishing to divide Christ or his body by labelling myself as a ‘progressive’ (or any other type of) Christian, I’ve found the wealth of info and blogging related to progressive Christianity on the web incredibly helpful in enabling me to understand my own evolution of faith.

I realise that, despite reactions to my recent blogging, I’m probably not a ‘liberal Christian’…but then I may be! What I do know is that I’m God’s child, unique and he loves me, and due to our uniqueness, no two Christians could possibly have exactly the same outlook on faith].

My goal is not to protest against anything, and certainly not to cause offence.

My goal is to share some honest reflections, particularly on my journey of faith in Jesus, and to provoke thinking, questioning and discussion.

Despite these goals, my views may yet cause offence, outrage or defensiveness from some, and my sensitive nature may feel wounded by comments made.

And I may then feel like giving up writing – as I did recently. But…

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap”.

Or in the words of Martin Luther King:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

It’s easy to toe the line,

go with the flow,

to sing to the tune of the status quo (not the band),

whether that’s the tune of modern Dawkinsian atheism or a particular school of religion ingrained in us, and to miss out on something better, more real, more alive.

But that’s not me. And I’ll be happy if my blogging…

…provokes another Christian to question assumptions (in the same way that Jesus questioned and challenged religious traditions), if it helps them to see Jesus more clearly than ever before, because true faith thrives in an atmosphere of genuine enquiry and honesty. As John the Baptist proclaimed, “He must increase, I must decrease”. Some of our ‘religious cows’ need to decrease so that Jesus may increase.

…causes someone who has nothing to do with church to engage with Christians and begin to discuss issues of faith.

…helps someone who’s felt marginalised from church to think “Maybe I have a place there after all”.

…provokes an atheist or agnostic to begin to consider a little more positively the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there could be a God.

…encourages anyone, of any faith or none, to more closely believe and practise Jesus’ instructions to love one another, even our enemies.

In fact, I already am happy, because these blogs have already achieved many, if not all, of those goals.

But I don’t expect agreement from everyone and I don’t even mind disagreement.

On past college courses, I found that I often learned most from lecturers I disagreed with, because my inner reaction against what was being taught (especially when ethical issues were addressed dogmatically) caused me to engage more fully with the topics under discussion, rather than be a passive listener.

So disagreement is good. As is sharing views and finding common ground.

Despite my thin skin, I still welcome comments, questions, discussion, disagreement (preferably made with grace and respect). In fact, that’s the whole point. Or one of the whole points.

My next blog post is likely to be on the subject of homosexuality and homophobia – probably on WOJ. It’s likely to be posted with trepidation, with the expectation of divided opinion.

I could watch the winds of disagreement and the clouds of people crying ‘heretic!’ and opt for the quiet life by not posting it.

But then I might miss the beauty of someone feeling that maybe, just maybe, God is for them after all. Someone else feeling that there is hope for the church in 21st Century Britain after all. Or another person realising that their homophobia needs to change.

Now any of those responses would be a harvest worth reaping.

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