I got back from Glasgow yesterday evening, teeth all checked (24 hour trip for a 10 minute check-up – private dental care here I come?), and numerous friends all caught up with. Now starts nearly two weeks with no travels, which will be a marvellous novelty.
It was wonderful being back in St Silas on the Sunday night, and the sermon was one of the best I have heard for a long, long time. I didn’t particularly like it because it was spiritually uplifting (though it was): I liked it because it was simply a great explanation of faith, the Trinity, and all we must strive to be as Christians.
Kicking off a series on Ephesians, the preacher Gordon Reid used Ephesians 1 as a springboard for exploring a new relationship with God.
Basically (and you really needed to have seen the excellent accompanying powerpoint slides – though you can at least listen to the podcast), it started with an outline of the three types of Christian: liberal (illustrated as green), evangelical (illustrated as red), and charismatic (illustrated as blue), which were all visualised as thirds of a circle.
Each third was linked with:
- famous examples (respectively: Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Jackie Pullinger)
- key motivations (respectively: achieving social justice, winning new souls; seeking spiritual experience)
- a point of reference which each takes (respectively: creation, Calvary and Pentecost)
- a part of the Trinity to which it is most closely aligned (respectively: the father, the son and the spirit)
We were told that if one point related to us more personally than the other two, we needed to grow into the other two parts of the circle too: partly through devoting our prayers to all three parts of the Trinity.
Finally, there was a brilliant link between each tradition through the three conversions we all need:
- from the world (in the liberal part of the circle) to Christ (in the evangelical part) – hopefully an obvious required conversion!
- from Christ to the church (in the charismatic part), because Christians must not be alone but a part of a bigger body
- from the church back to the world again, taking the Good News out to everyone else
Together these made the whole picture of the new relationship we should seek with God.
That’s probably not a sufficient or entirely accurate summary, and without the visuals it’s hard to do it full justice. And admittedly, it was perhaps not of much value to someone not yet a Christian.
But for me, the sermon – delivered with great thoughtfulness and humour – helped me understand a whole lot more about why there is a diversity of views among how Christians view the world and view God, and how each perspective has a huge role to play in the relationships we seek with God as individuals and as a church. It’s well worth a listen.