Grace and Truth



Emotionally I'm feeling a bit fragile this week... Probably just exhaustion after a busy few decades... but if anyone were to say anything negative to me at the moment I'd probably burst into tears and run away and hide... That's not my usual state of mind... normally I appreciate robust debate and intelligent critique... always have done, whether in the theatre, in science or in ministry... but at the moment, I'm not too sure I could take it. Which is why I'm encouraged, and inspired, by an unexpected act of grace and humility that I became aware of late on Sunday night...


A few weeks ago our book group finished its latest project, "Total Church" by Tim Chester and Steve Timms, and, as is my practice, I subsequently posted a "review" on the "LivingSocial" site and in the side-bar of this blog... To say that it wasn't complimentary is an understatement, as there were parts of the book and its general tone than left me as angry as I have ever been with a book or its authors... This was, in part, because I agree with them on so much, but found the percieved lack of recognition that there have been people effectively tramping this ground before enormously arrogant... and, as is often the case, whilst they argued powerfully for a small/cell group-based church, there were no suggestions as to how you can get there from one based on the larger congregational model... nor indeed who would pick up the important social capital component provided by church-run youth and adults organisations, if every church changed it's paradigm. There were other quibbles, but let's leave that for another day...


Then on Sunday I was forced into checking internet traffic on my fb account and blog because someone had hacked my son's fb account, and I discovered that blogger now has it's own integral stats monitor (hence I've ditched the free commercial one which some of you noticed was previously hidden under my sign-off). Whilst doing this I noticed that a lot of hits recently had been coming from Tim Chester's site... only to track it back an discover that he had published my snarky little review in full, and without trying to refute or challenge any of my criticisms. Now Tim Chester is a much bigger fish than I am, and many more people will pay attention to his book and blog than to my self-absorbed ramblings... But he didn't have to acknowledge my critique, or point people in the direction of my site... yet he did...


And as I said in a comment I appended on his blog, if reviews such as mine being welcome on his site is representative of people with divergent opinions being welcome in their "Crowded House" network, then that is the secret of their success...


The last time I had such a peak in newbies looking at this site (barring the anomally when I mentioned Michael Jackson shortly after his death), was a blog I posted about 18 months ago about an event I attended which was very, very badly led... I was also in a very, very bad place mentally at the time and I let those leading the event have it with both barrels... I did so without naming them, but everyone who was at the event, or knew of it, knew who I was referring to, and it became a big draw... Until someone rightly pulled me up on whether I had taken my concerns directly to the individuals concerned before so gracelessly lambasting them. I hadn't. And duly chastened I apologised on the blog, before taking the article down completely, and writing to the people concerned via snail mail.


I still believe that what I said was truthful... but there was no grace in it at all. And, for the most part I've tried to remember that when posting anything since then... Check for grace before clicking "publish post."


I still believe what I said in the review of "Total Church" was truthful, and in this case I don't think I was totally graceless in how I said it (although a few weeks on I may have mellowed my tone slightly... but only slightly) indeed I did also include those areas where I think they are saying something very important. But I am really encouraged by the grace with which my slings and arrows have been recieved by Tim Chester...


"Grace and truth": the distinguishing marks of the incarnate Word...



Shalom

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