In touch | Check-in | Intercessions
Up-to-the-minute jumping-off points for sermons, linking the reading to the latest news and global issues
What? Do you think?
Working out our Salvation: aligning our thinking and our doing (Phil. 2:12).
Ideas for sermons or interactive talks
One of the most insidious byproducts of social media is that it has propagated the notion that one opinion is as good as another. Any idea or the latest conspiracy is not tested for its veracity. Rather, most are designed to be emotive – to provoke a reaction (and not thoughtful consideration) from us. Cardinal Newman once wrote, ‘We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.’ How does this sit with today’s society?
A man once asked his rabbi, ‘Why do you always answer a question with another question?’ The rabbi responded: ‘What do you mean?’ This type of dialogue is as old as Judaism, for Jesus certainly uses it. It is also the basis for the ‘Socratic method,’ some five centuries before Christ. Questions require us to think; but they also lead us further into faith than cut and dried answers (catechesis). Asking questions keeps our minds supple and leads us to even more profound questions and deeper understanding.
‘Mindfulness’ has become a popular way of dealing with stress, pain, and other issues. In some ways it is a process of literally changing one’s mind. It teaches one to observe his/her mind in the face of a given problem and then choosing how to respond. As a person who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, I can attest to its effectiveness. Rather than thinking, ‘Oh, I’m in pain,’ and then dwelling on how much I hurt, I focus on the fact that I am not the pain and the pain is not me. It inhabits me to a greater or lesser extent on any given day, but I do not have to inhabit the pain. I can focus my thinking on other things.
Questions for discussion
- Many people would be offended if addressed with the title of this In Touch: What? Do you think? We can often go through much of a day making decisions without really thinking; other times we can’t make up our mind. How much consideration do you and I take when significant decisions must be made?
- Pick a passage wherein Jesus answers a question with another question, such as Luke 10:25-37 or Luke 18:18-25. Why do you think he does that? How might it have worked out if Jesus had not asked a question?
- Per one of the URLs above, how much does climate change and extreme weather relate to working out our salvation as a human race?
Revd Dr Jack Lawson is a free-lance writer and novelist: Doing Time, No Good Deed, Criminal Justice, The Woods and Dirty Business. His newest novel, Joab, (Wipf & Stock) is based on the life of King David. For more information visit Jack’s blog.
Connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people
Last week there was a major turnaround in government policy on the country becoming ‘carbon net-zero’. The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars was put back five years until 2035. And now there is talk about the superfast rail link HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester being cancelled because, it is said, costs are spiralling out of control.
In the media and in face-to-face conversations debate will rage as to whether these are the right actions. Some will see them as carefully considered policies for the benefit of the country, and others may see them as political attempts to gain popularity.
These are serious issues concerning our stewardship of the planet and the use of resources which are available for public expenditure. It is right for Christians to give these matters prayerful consideration and reach their own conclusions on them.
The parable of the Two Sons in Matthew 21 comes in response to an attempt by the chief priests and leaders to catch Jesus out. They have found themselves facing a question they can’t, or don’t want to answer. This week there have been those who have condemned the government for policy changes. Perhaps they are right in relation to the specific issues. However it is wrong to condemn a change of mind as weakness. The parable show us that we should be willing to allow others to reconsider their decisions. Perhaps we should take it further and allow, even encourage ourselves, regularly to review the standpoints we have taken.
Revd Stuart Wild is Superintendent Minister of the Blackpool and South Fylde Methodist Circuit.
Views expressed are the authors' own. Hypertext links to other websites are for the convenience of users only and do not constitute any endorsement or authorisation by ROOTS for Churches Ltd.
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