I have just spent a couple of days on a course helping to prepare for the new minister we will be welcoming to the circuit in September, the experience has been really helpful and has caused me to reflect on what are some interesting questions.
One of the leaders was a very experienced minister from Namibia in South Africa, he’s been in this country for four years now and he kept on referring to himself as “Black” which I found odd, because the colour of his skin was only marginally different to nearly all the people in the room, indeed I’ve seen people simply come back from a couple of weeks in the sun with darker skin than his, but clearly skin colour was an issue to him.
We quote the words from time to time that we are made in the Image of God and I wonder what exactly that means. In my ministry, I’ve come across people of all shapes and sizes, people with different ethnic backgrounds, people with physical, mental and psychological differences and I wonder sometimes what “normal” is. There have been occasions in Church where an attitude of “people like us” has prevailed and the older I get, the more suspicious I get and as I look at Jesus, when he was born into the world, he certainly didn’t conform to the expected and tried ways, indeed he rebelled, questioned and challenged.
Eight new ministers will come into this country in September and will minister across the country, some will look and speak differently to us, all will no doubt come bringing cultural and social challenges, just as Jesus did and I wonder what this does to the local Churches? I would suggest that God continually challenges and tests us, maybe to move in different directions. Over the years I’ve heard people say to me “we don’t do it that way in our Church” or “I don’t like the way you do that” my response is that I try to serve the Church as best I can and on occasions, I’ve sacrificed my own preferences for the sake of others.
Jesus was quite uncompromising in his attitude and sought the will of God rather than the will of people, I wonder if the Church is for people that don’t look like us, speak like us or do things in our way, maybe either compromise or self-sacrifice is essential for the good of the Kingdom? Derek