Christian Comments, August 2016

Recently I took part in a trial online annual review of my ministry. One of the online sections asked me to rate myself against a number of set criteria, 7 is good – 1 is bad. Are you good at this/are you bad at that?
The problem is, I constantly want to rate myself low – exceeding low standards is easy, I’ve made it a life time goal.
The idea that online assessment can produce a varied impression of a Priests abilities might seem a developmentally curious proposition. But the idea is sound because importantly it is of course true, that some kind of analysis has to take place. The examination should produce new ideas, which then have to triumph over old ones – this might be where this all falls down. But new ideas are really important, remembering that new ideas can only triumph if they 1st are based on new knowledge – or 2nd are responding to new outlooks, new perspectives, new horizons – this too might be a little tricky.
A few weeks ago I met someone at a dinner party who seemed very happy to tell me how good they were at everything. The individual was very confident, without doubt the life and the soul of the party – he was the sort of person that gives me a nose bleed. He had lots of ideas – he seemed determined to share them all with me. He described himself as an ‘Ideationist’, trained in ‘Cleverism’, trained in the best techniques to generate ideas.
Hedonic John as I like to call him, seemed to be almost entirely bereft of social/emotional buffers. He was living proof that being constantly happy is not an inherently good thing. I strongly resist the theory that the more reserved suffer maladaptive psychological characteristics. Rather, that it is better to have a range of emotions and feelings which allow you to ride the ever ebbing and flowing tide of this world’s realities.
Hedonic John slapped me on the back and said ‘I love you sort of people, Vicars, your all very funny’ (He clearly didn’t know many vicars) but went on – ‘funny you may be, but you’re a relic’.
When we boiled it all down my new best friend wasn’t really in a position to understand Christianity because he had never effectively been told about it, he perceived it through a very particular lens, a modern view strongly influences by aggressive atheism and a supermarket approach to spiritual wellbeing. That may be true but in this modern age the Christian message is a new one, many have never heard it – all Christians are called to proclaim and to do so loudly and without fear.
In Matthew 28.19 we are clearly told
‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.
Unequivocal, uncompromising, new every morning, new in every generation.

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