Action and Commentary

23Feb11

A while back, quite a while back actually, church was this thing I learnt to understand as something that helped keep us out of the world. Now, I realise that might sound a little strange, but indulge me.

‘Being in the world but not of it’ was a phrase  I heard a lot as I grew up (not from my family, but from other folks at the church we went to). In my experience it went hand in hand with a mentality that said Sunday was the  focus of the week, a time when we can escape from the world. A time to have faith restored and be close to God. It was if people wanted every day to be Sunday, so they could be in church together. It seemed folks went about their lives holding out for Sunday and every effort was to get more people along to church so they could know/ experience the same.

I fought against this, it made my heart ache with a sadness that became unbearable. A few years down the line, and treading the line between going to a church and being church, being part of an institution or being institutionalised, I wanted to share that last Sunday made a lot of sense.

One of the philosophies that draws me to the church we are now part of is it’s view of Sundays. Rather than being a day of escape, it is a day of celebration and joy, the focus is to meet to tell what God is doing during the other 6 days. Rather than the purpose of the church being to meet on a Sunday, the purpose is to go out and be God’s people, and then come together from time to time to retell the stories and inspire others.

On the Sunday just past, we were reminded of CAP, we heard about street pastors, (ok and we sung a lot, shared communion) and then we had some thoughts on a few verses on Acts 4.

What I took from the teaching presented (what I took is not necessarily what was said, but how what was said sparked a chain of thoughts that resonated with things I was already thinking about) was a clear message about ‘action’ and ‘commentary’. We had a brief overview of the book of Acts, and this seemed to be from the NT Wright perspective, and one that I have to say I find myself agreeing with. Basically, the book of Acts is a series of ‘acts’, six to be precise, and we are living in the seventh. The book ends in mid air, and that is our invitation to step into the story and write our contribution to the next ‘act’.

The teaching, given by Jon, focused on the section called ‘the believers prayer’; one for boldness of speech, for healings and great miracles. part of the structure of the book of Acts is something like this: prayer > action > speech (or commentary).

Why did this capture my interest, well, at one point Jon said something like this

maybe the devil’s trick is to keep us focused on commentary, to the point where we no longer do any action, and we certainly don’t pray for boldness, healing and miracles like they did in the 1st century church.

(previously, the early church was described by Jon as being in a different zone almost unbelievable, yet this is the kind of Christianity we should be practicing, not some kind of tame, domesticated version we currently have).

Ah, I have spent a long time emerging to a place of action (works) almost, I reflected, to the point of forsaking the commentary (faith) aspects of what it is to be in the Jesus way. Sunday served as a strong reminder that both faith and works, or if you prefer it, action and commentary are essential. BUT, if we take the Acts order of doing things, we should set out to pray first, then to go out with boldness and act, and then when this captures the imaginations of those we interact with, we might be invited to make some kind of commentary.
Peace

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