Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent Internet Fast

So I've been thinking about what to give up for Lent. Whilst I'm well up for the whole idea of taking things on for Lent rather than the whole sackcloth and ashes thing, I do still think there is a real place for fasting, and Lent is a good time to do it. Fasting is supposed to be giving something up as a spiritual discipline for God. It is saying to God, I need you and want you more than this thing. It is not meant to be easy, because this would be no discipline at all. I think for me, the most difficult thing to give up at the moment is the internet; more difficult than chocolate, or alcohol, or TV, or coffee (ok, maybe not coffee). So for the next 40 days, not including the Sundays (I'll have to think about Sundays) I will not be using the internet, except for strictly academic research purposes. So that means no blogging, no facebook, no Twitter, no BBC iplayer, no BBC news, no Youtube, no nothing. This is going to be rock hard for me, 'cos I love the internet. I practically live on it. When we have been away to Su's dad's or somewhere, when the broadband has been down, it has been a nightmare for me. I even take my laptop to bed with me. Which is probably why it's time to have a break. What am I going to do for my quick fix of news, for that random blog entry, for that stupid video? What will I do with my time? I may even have to start talking to my wife again :)

There will be one exception to this internet fast. When our second child arrives, at some point during the next 4 weeks or so, I will of course let the world know, and get some piccies up. But this, hopefully, will be the only break in the fast (like I say, apart from academic articles relevant to my research). Wish me luck. Signing off.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My understanding of the Gospel

I was looking through my application for my Church of England Bishop's Advisory Panel Selection Conference (snappy I know) today and I came across this. The question was 'Summarise the most important elements of your own Christian faith. Why are they important to you? What is at the heart of the good news you want to share with other people?' My answer could be accused of being somewhat 'Wrightian' but it is still a fair summary of what I believe:

Amongst the most important elements of my Christian faith are: a sense of being loved by God, of being forgiven, of a peace with God which leads to peace with other people, a sense of meaning and purpose in life, a hope and a future, a belief of being called by God to participate with Him in his putting the world to rights, renewing and redeeming all of creation. These elements are important to me because they have changed my life, they help me make sense of the world, and I believe they are based on truth.
My current understanding of the gospel is as follows:
God the creator has given us all good things to enjoy and look after. However, we have taken these things, and rather than enjoying them with thanksgiving, we have turned them into idols, worshiping the creation, rather than the creator. We become like what we worship, so that, rather than becoming image-of-God-bearing fully alive, whole human beings, we have marred God’s image and become broken, dehumanised slaves to sin, subject to death. All of humanity and indeed all creation has been affected by this rejection of their creator. The good news is that in the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, God was reconciling the world to himself, winning a decisive victory over the powers of darkness, sin and death. This gospel is the message of God’s inbreaking kingdom (rule), which has begun through what Christ has done, continues through the work of the Spirit, and will one day be complete. Its announcement in word and deed, challenges all other would-be rulers, and demands a response of the obedience of faith, or rejection. The good news is not an invitation to have a new religious experience, or to follow a new moral code, but the message that Jesus, the crucified messiah of Israel, is the risen Lord of all who now reigns. The resurrection of Jesus, was the 1st day of God’s new creation, and the promise of God’s future renewal of all creation. In the mean time, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the people of God work and pray and announce the message in anticipation of that day when evil is destroyed and God’s reign of justice and peace is complete.
This is a big picture overview of the multi-faceted gospel. The results for the individual who accepts this message are the love, forgiveness, peace, purpose, hope and future I mentioned above. How I share this news with other people will depend on their context.