Christianity 201

November 24, 2022

If I’m Being Honest

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Before we begin today, Clarke’s column today includes a reference to Acts 15, which contains one of my favourite verses:

NIV.Acts.15.19 [James speaking] “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God…”

The verses Clarke more directly mentions are:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them…

Click the link in the title below to read today’s devotional at Clarke’s blog.

Thinking Through Honesty in the Church

by Clarke Dixon

Everyone knew that God’s big plan centered on a particular people and a specific patch of land in the Middle East. Some dared to question that when they shared honestly – we have seen Jesus alive and we think that changes everything. – Their honesty led to a dark place, it led to persecution. It also led to a brighter future.

Everyone knew that Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, and that being a Jesus follower was tied up with being a follower of the traditions of being Jewish. But some dared to question that including Peter – I have seen a vision and we have seen the Holy Spirit move among the non-Jews. – Such honestly was shared during a time of division which can feel like a dark time. We can read about that Acts 15. Such honesty led to a brighter future.

Everyone knew that the traditions of the church were super-important, that the word of the Pope was not to be questioned. Some dared to question that – What we are reading in the Bible is not fitting well with the traditions. – And so Luther and many others came under persecution from the powers that be. The honesty of the Reformers led to the darkness of division and persecution. It also led to a brighter future.

Everyone knew that if you were English, the Church of England was your church and you need not question its theology or traditions. Some, like Thomas Helwys and John Smith did dare to question, to be honest about what they were thinking – What we read in the Bible does not fit with what we are being told. – And so the Baptist movement came to be, with Baptists becoming champions of freedom of religion and belief in the separation of church and State. The honesty of the early Baptists led to the darkness of division and persecution. It also led to a brighter future.

All through the history of Christianity, honesty has been difficult, but rewarding. Honesty has led to richer, deeper theology. Much of our theology, however, has been crafted, yes from the Bible, but by dead white men. In our day are we listening to the voices of the living including those who are not white men? Living people, looking at the Bible and life through other eyes, may see things many of us have not seen before. Do some people feel like they need to keep quiet, that their honesty will bring them to a difficult place?

Do you feel like you can be honest? Or does that seem like a dark place to go?

It is so very normal to have mixed thoughts and feelings about God, life, and our understanding about God, and life. It should be normal to feel comfortable talking about those mixed thoughts and feelings in Christian community without the fear of being shunned, or being made to feel stupid.

We may feel like being honest will lead us to a dark place, but sometimes our honesty comes from a dark place. I recently went to a concert by a country artist called Tenille Townes who told a story about playing a gig at a high school shortly after some students were killed in a car accident. She spoke of having questions and the importance of asking honest questions. Then she sang a song she wrote called “Jersey on the Wall,” which includes this question for God: “if you’ve got your hands on everything that happened, why couldn’t you stop that car from crashing?” Every time I hear that song I think of my best friend who died in a car accident when we were both in our early twenties. Perhaps there is someone you think of. Perhaps you ask the same question.

This is the last in our series “What Kind of Church.”  Are we the kind of church where you can ask questions without fear of being shunned, or being made to feel stupid? Are we the kind of church where there is understanding when things are beyond understanding? Are we the kind of church where you can just be honest?

Sometimes being honest can be the scary thing, the thing we might think will lead to a dark place. But it usually leads to a brighter future.

In this series we have been considering the cultural statements of Open Table Communities and today’s is:

A Culture of Honesty
We nurture a posture of relational, emotional and intellectual honesty. We value relational honesty with others and self, emotional honesty in identification and expression of feelings, and intellectual honesty with regard to truth.




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