COFFEE & CATCH UP with Church Times – no. 7749 23 September 2011 – tells me that an online poll “finds majority Christian in name but not in practice”. Now I wonder how “practice” is defined? The question’s important because I can wholly understand that many who are naturally “at home” with God might very well be turned right off “the Church” by some of the unedifying spectacles, historically and currently, to be witnessed in her life, across the denominations, the world over: “You are usurpers, AMiE tells CofE ‘Establishment'” – as but a tiny example this week! Thanks be to God that
O Lord all the world belongs to you
and you are always making all things new.
What is wrong you forgive and the new life you give
is what’s turning the world upside down …
In such a topsy-turvy world I wonder whether it might be nearer the truth that many fine women and men of goodwill are Christian in practice but not in name? In a world turned upside down (evidently one of God’s permanently creative processes) we should perhaps be celebrating the demise of some of the shibboleths once held dear. I – for one – would love to see the demise of the (oft-used and often tub-thumping) phrase “Bible-based” and a corresponding increase in “God-centred”. Many’s the God-centred person I know whose patent closeness to the Spirit of Jesus owes little or nothing to regular recourse to Scripture. Many the seeds that must fall to the ground and die. Many the situations of dire human need that need religious change-of-heart if they’re to be addressed with anything resembling the compassion of Jesus. And in the meantime I thank the Source of all Life that many are Christian in practice if not in name – and I watch and pray with loving faith and interest as the Lord of Life continues to turn both the world and the Church upside down. Magnificat!