I listened to a sermon on Sunday, and for once I even took notes. Later that day I found out that one of the friends who lives inside my computer has died. Another friend who lives inside my computer has died too – two friends in a month – and our little community of mentals became very sad and distressed. I don’t know the details of how they died, but the risk of suicide is always high with these friends who live inside my computer.
And now I want to write this blogpost, even though I’m becoming more neurotic and emotionally ‘fragile’ every day. I wanted to write a similar post to this at Christmas. But didn’t.
Churches have a habit of presenting a ‘vision’ at the start of every year. A direction the leaders think God wants the church to follow. That’s fine. Our church leaders are being very enthusiastic about this so far. I sort of like the point of it – I can see that our minister wants to shake the church up a bit, out of its suburban sleepiness. But I have rebelled against the ‘vision’ so far. Admittedly, I missed the first sermon of the year and haven’t bothered to listen to the recording, but I have seen the strapline:
“We exist to help people to become fully committed and equipped disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Whether that’s individually or collectively… er, no.
So then I listened to this sermon. I don’t like this preacher. I’ve had a go at him before about his lack of humility and judgemental attitude (he’s the poster boy for evangelicalism). But his skin is so thick any criticism just bounces merrily off. Meh, he deserved it anyway. I even gave him homework, haha. I told him to read the gospels and see how Jesus treated sinners. I am a contradictory creature – scared of all the things but bolshy enough to give a church elder a severe bollocking. 😀
So anyway, he was preaching on this vision thingy. We’re going through Acts, which is all about the first church. They did all these exciting things, woo. And from the beginning of this book, our dear elder was telling us what our purpose is. It’s to PROCLAIM THE KINGDOM!! and MAKE DISCIPLES!! I’m telling you, everything he says is in caps lock with many exclamation points. I’m taking earplugs next time. What do all these exciting Christian words even mean anyway? Proclaim the kingdom? Right, Ima get myself a megaphone and yell up and down Oxford Street, “I’M PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM! PROCLAIM IT, BABY!”
And then he went on to talk about the Holy Spirit. Apparently, God gives us the power of the Spirit to empower disciples for witness. I’m not even going to go into what that stuff means, I think in our preacher’s head it’s some sort of very shouty Bible bashing. This dude said that the Holy Spirit does lots of things, but the fundamental thing he does is this empowering thing for all the witnessing.
And I thought, you’re wrong. You’ve got it the wrong way round. Jesus described the Holy Spirit, the one who came after him, as the Comforter. Other translations are Counselor, Helper, Advocate and Strengthener. One of the most famous quotes at Christmas is this:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Our preacher only mentioned the word love once. ONCE. In a sermon about our purpose as disciples of Jesus, the man who was described centuries before his birth as a wonderful counselor. The context of this is as one who is wise and can guide, one we can trust to listen to us and help us. A disciple follows Jesus, emulates him, he’s our friend and guide, and he left his spirit to be our counselor and comforter.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Come on, man! How can you not get this? Two friends are dead. What is my purpose? It’s to love my friends. Not that I do all the time, y’know? Two other friends who live in my computer have behaved really badly recently and I’ve been angry. One in particular pushes all my buttons from being bullied and I’ve drawn my line. But I still care. I still care about my step-daughter who bullied me and I try to show it from afar.
So I edit our church’s strapline to:
We exist to be loved by Jesus and to love like Jesus loves us.