One of my pleasant earlier in the week experiences was meeting up with an old friend and chewing the cud as it were on things going on in the world and what is the right way to counter this. What made the meeting a bit more interesting than “normal” is both me and my friend spend time checking out from various sources what is going on in the world and peoples’ reactions that appear to be significant, and commenting publicly, e.g. through Facebook, our differing views. It was nice, while we had significant areas of disagreement, and unlike what often sadly happens, we could disagree amicably yet still find much common ground. What helped, was both of us saw seeking the truth as crucial and wanted what was best for humanity.
Our “summit” got me thinking on a number of levels, especially just prior to my starting this blog, I read about all manner of disturbing happenings in the world and opinions thereof, often at sharp variance, on what is going on. The question mulling in my mind is should I continue upsetting some of my Christian friends and further alienating some of my non Christian acquaintances by throwing in my two penneth on what I think is happening and ought to happen? At this point I can give examples, starting perhaps with matters pertaining to “the squad”, the four Congresswomen President Trump managed to upset and thereby enrage a wide assortment of people, but suffice to say there is lots of other stuff out there to get me going. In my dotage and as I rapidly approach my three score years and ten before due to exit this world, surely there must be better things I can do, from putting my feet up and enjoying retirement to doing good as a husband, father, friend, neighbour, member of one of my local communities, helping the homeless?
It is true there is a time and place for everything under the sun, as an old favourite book in the Bible, Ecclesiastes, is quick to remind me, and I am often reminded of the consternation I felt in my youth when I observed old codgers (which I daresay those who have taken my place now see me to be) who had once been go getters in their prime, spending hours on what seemed as fruitless pontificating, when they could be doing something better. I can only speak for myself of course and I need to humbly admit that I am not always right (just most of the time – I’m joking of course) and I don’t always put over my views in the best possible way and through lack of wisdom have sometimes built walls rather than bridges. I should also add the caveat that too often I have observed the “is it worth it” aftermath of Christians, especially if in positions of influence such as pastors, speaking out, that has added to rather than allayed division and misunderstanding, when what is needed is not just speaking the truth in love, but it to be done with wisdom and understanding. It is sad that often instead of finding unity, we see division as one Christian leader says one thing and another just the opposite.
But let me give seven reasons, why I continue to comment, despite the flak (a price worth paying) that often follows when doing so, specifically through Facebook and my blog, realising all of us have perspectives (often valid ones) that should be taken into account. These differ, depending on many factors including the things we care about most, which then impacts on the way we see the world:
- I need to pass the baton to those who follow in my footsteps, which includes knowledge and wisdom that need to be retained.
- I need to love my neighbour (literally everyone, irrespective of differences) and I may do a disservice by NOT speaking out.
- It is the truth, however painful it is when received, that sets us free, and it is better to be free than to be slaves, and sometimes the need to correct error is a compelling one.
- I can speak as an old dodderer no-one listens to anyway when, as is often seen, others who do so suffer the consequences of speaking unpalatable truths the PC brigade etc. clamp down on.
- I believe God has called me to be a watchman on the wall concerning the dangers that are afoot, and regrettably our Christians leaders have not, in the main, been doing this.
- “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” Proverbs 31:8-9.
- (Controversially) if the Kingdom of God is about the here and now (at least partly) as much as about the future, then should we not be therefore promoting the Kingdom and its values?
I am mindful of the definitions of sacred and secular: sacred: “connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration” and secular: “not connected with religious or spiritual matters” and the issues that may arise when trying to mix the two or at least recognize the pitfalls when one does or responding to being told this was something we should not do or just recognising that correct theology does not compartmentalize the sacred and the secular. I have gone on record by declaring I am a “gospel preaching, community activist”, which means my job requires that I preach the gospel AND be actively engaged in the community, especially outside the church. It seems to me, as a culture watcher, the tendency in the West is to move further away from its Judaeo-Christian roots, and part of my remit of going “outside the camp” (the title of the book that tells my story) is to question, come to terms with and speak truth into that culture, as well as earn the right to do so by caring for the poor and oppressed.
Different time and different place, but this quote from one of the more obscure parts of the Bible personally resonates. If I have any role model for doing what I am doing, it is the Sons of Issachar.