One of the values that I love about the emerging church is that of humble realisation that we don't know much about anything, that there is so much we can learn from each other and that healthy conversation is more helpful than competing for the right to be right...
A safe space for diverse and healthy conversation
I only have to spend a few minutes reading the generous, considerate, loving and thoughtful comments of the people responding to a pontetially contriversial subject that Jason posted on this blog on who gets into heaven to see this value being modelled live. Jason's hope/dream/purpose for this blog is "to make safe spaces for diverse and healthy conversations about church" and I for one have really learnt and grown as a person and a follower of Jesus by sharing my thoughts on here and learning to listen, engage and see from the view point of others, so a big thank you from me to all of you who read/post/reflect on here. and maybe its a chance to also thank Jase for providing and tending this space with such aplomb!
Living out the great commission one conversation at a time
I have found that one of the benefits of learning to listen, of hearing what people say and trying to surpress my urge to tell people what I think is that it makes me so much better at living out the great commission. Knowing that I do not have all the answers, that there are hard questions that are worth thinking about as a fellow questioner rather than an expert with the answer and that there is room for mystery and marvels as part of a live faith in triune God makes it for me much less about a "them vs us/God" and more about us and God. In Jeus commissioning the disciples to "go and tell, I see a faith where I am given to permision live and invite others to join me in a daily life of love, service, conversations, compassion, encounters, confrontations, prayer, miracles, suffering and exitement. A faith that is symbolic in the new life of baptism and marked with grace, generousity, kindness and a willingness to be part of this world as an agent of reconcilliation rather than rebuke.
Conversations from a different perspective
In my last post I reflected briefly about the dangers of blindspots, biases and baggage and the encouragement that I have had from becoming more self aware. The value of learning to see ourselves in the light of both God's truth and love and being a part of that for each other - the awakening of self awareness. For me one of the most recent helpful eye opening encounters I have had was the ebay athesist project which Jase blogged about here. What I loved about this was seeing the world from a postion of people with a strong faith that there is no God and the generous conversations and mutual curiosity/insights that flowed between both sets of believers. The ebay atheist project may have finished but the space for this sort of conversation continues with the setting up of conversations on the edge.
Coexisting in communities of conversation
Such healthy dialogue especially in this polarised age makes me wonder what other meeting places for conversations could be created? It reminds me of seeing Bono in concert last year, during the song Sunday Bloody Sunday, symbolically touching putting his hand to his headband and pointing to each religions icon in the message CoXisT that was written on it and saying:
"Jesus, Jew, Muhammad, it's true... all sons of Abraham. Father Abraham, speak to your sons. Tell them, No more!"
For me it was a powerful plea to abandon hate, fear, suspicion and emnity and to consider instead that we might have things to learn from each other, that I as a christian am not so much about escaping off earth to heaven but involved in bringing humanity down to earth. That Jesus command was to love not to hate, to pray rather than join the persecuters. The need to extend the hand of friendship and share a space to listen and share is more pressing than ever. Maybe you are aware of some conversations or perhaps you've been inspired to create a space for such a conversing caring community - whether on-line or on your street...if so please do let me know...
Paul Mayers guest blogger (and sometime conversationalist)