Thursday, 21 July 2016


Corinthians is the go to text for Christians who want to talk about teamwork, but the mandate was actually given by God from and even before he created man.  In fact teamwork was built into our very DNA. 

Genesis 1:26-27 states we are created in God's image, a thought to keep in mind as we look at some keywords for the purpose of this exercise. These words I want to consider are "Let us make God created..." 

So here we have God (one member of the trinity) talking to the others and he/she says "Let" (the proposal), in this form it is a suggestion or statement of intention. Next up is "us" (the who)  which is plural thus indicating more than one entity is present. We then progress to the words "make man" (aim/goal) which presents the desired result.  Finally we have the phrase "so God created" which indicates that the proposal was agreed upon by the who, whom then worked to achieve the outcome: Teamwork. 

Now let us refer back to the bible text and the details of the proposal; specifically the criteria that man was to be made in the image of God.   Now consider that the very creation of man was one which was a group task; how then can we function in the image of God if we fail to act as part of a loving team or community?  By acting as part of a respectful, loving team in harmonious pursuit of a goal, is in itself an act of honour to the creator for we are doing what we were created to do; to reflect his image. 

Now some may feel this is a tenuous idea, so let's examine the mandate given to man and woman by God after their creation.  Genesis 1:28 contains the command of God, and also the remit of man and woman that they are to be fruitful and multiply.  It is the multiply aspect that I am most interested in at this time. 

Simple biology tells us that we need more than one person in order to reproduce, and seeing as God considers free will a pretty big deal, I cannot envisage for a second that in his telling man and woman to reproduce he was encouraging or condoning one party forcing either their will or their body onto another.  We were to work in harmony by respecting, agreeing, and consenting; and by our doing so we would not only become one, but we would also be of one purpose. Thus his very command to multiply is implicit in saying teamwork was a requirement of our roles here on earth. 

It is also possible to make a case for the fall of man being a team effort, instead of what has historically and erroneously presented where the woman solely is to blame.  A reading of Genesis 3:6-7 presents us with the moment that the man and woman sin. In this we read that the woman eats the fruit, and then presents it to her husband who is with her. In this moment her husband has the ability to say no and refuse his consent in this course of action, but he does not; he and his wife remain of one mind, and it is upon the man eating the fruit that Verse 7 says "their eyes were opened".    Consider for a moment that nothing happened to the woman until the man ate the fruit, what are the implications of this?  

Now let's look at what happens after they have eaten the fruit. The text goes on to say that God came down looking for the man and the woman but they were hiding, and so God confronts them about what they had done, and what happens next is the first example of division and disunity between men and women in the bible. "It was the woman you gave me..." (Gen 3:12) and with one finely constructed sentence the man seeks to firstly distance himself from the woman and to blame God for the predicament that he finds himself in.   

Men and women were not created to be divided, we were created with a unified purpose and for a common goal. As Christians wishing to reflect the image of God to a fractious and broken world, we must find unity with one another and with our God. Back biting, sabotaging one another's efforts, gossiping, and causing problems within the church is not reflective of a loving God who with a clear mind and purpose set out to achieve a goal, but rather is an indicator of how far from God we really are. 


Friday, 15 July 2016

No justice, no peace: The Revelation of God through protest

Suicide bombings in Iraq. Mass kidnappings in Nigeria. Routine murder by police in the USA of black men with impunity. Corruption in every nation and at every levelled government.  As a Christian I struggle with this picture of the world I live in.  I see the images coming out of the USA and the U.K., I watch as the #blacklivesmatter movement face off against the police and with decades of repressed fear, pain, anger and sorrow chant with their entire being, "No justice, no peace".

"No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace. "

And then I open my bible and I read, and I remember that chant, "No justice, no peace", and it dawns on me, they are right, but not in the conditional way in which they are warning police and politicians that they have had enough, but in a factual way for God is justice, and God is peace; know Justice, know Peace.

No God, no peace;  No peace, no God.  It's a pretty simple equation that stands scrutiny not because it is expressed in that form in any verse that can be quoted but rather that it is woven into the fabric of the bible and implicit everywhere. In The Books of Law found in the Torah, justice is a governing principle and is to be given to all equally, whether they are rich or poor (Lev 19:15), foreign or domestic (Deu 24:17).  In fact God goes as far as to curse any who deny justice to foreigners, orphans or widows (Deu 27:19).

Justice is not only however a theme of the bible, it is also a fundamental characteristic of God and governs how he interacts with his creation.  The Psalmist writes:

"But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgement from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in the time of trouble." (Psalms 9:7-9)

Proverbs 16:12 is even more telling about rulership "A king detests wrong doing, for his rule is built on justice."   As Christians we proclaim Jesus Christ to be the King of Kings who will establish his kingdom that will last forever, well we need to recognise that one of the factors that underpins that kingdom, that makes him worthy of rulership, is justice.  

For a moment, I want you to imagine heaven.  Think of all the wonderful ways it's described in the bible, the ways it's been described in church or by your friends.  Think of all the wonders you imagine it contains, think of living with people from every tongue and every nation for eternity, think of how wonderful that must be.  And now take the justice out of your picture?  Not quite so idyllic is it?  Not quite so peaceful either.

No justice, no peace.

So how then can we claim to love Christ and desire to go to heaven, but be so indifferent about justice?  How can it be possible to yearn for peace, but be unconcerned about injustice?  How can we comfortably call ourselves Christians when we ignore the pain and suffering that injustice causes?  Matthew 25:31-46 provides an overview of some of the things Christ is concerned with, and although being murdered wasn't on the list and I think it's safe to say if he is concerned about people going hungry, he is concerned about people being killed over theological differences or the colour of their skin. I think it's also safe to say that if we are not committed to stamping out injustice and coming alongside people in their pain we are refusing to help the least of His brothers and sisters; we are refusing to help Him.

Amos writes:

"I hate all your show and pretense- the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I won't accept your burnt offerings or your grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.  Instead I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living." (Amos 5:21-24)

God doesn't care that you go to the most boring church imaginable, he isn't interested in your tithe and offerings, and that sweet sounding mass choir you have going on... He isn't even listening to it!  He is waiting for that mighty flood of justice from us; he is waiting for us to stand up and get involved. He is waiting for Christians to stand up and lead the world to the end of their search for peace and justice; he is waiting for us to lead the world to him.


"No justice,  No peace.  KNOW justice KNOW peace".