With the advent of the rains for which some have been praying, there’s a sad feel around everything today. I’ve noticed one or two on the edge of tearfulness, as Bible Study groups meet for the last time. There is some concern about whether we’ve got The Answer. This is particularly so among the English. As people of the middle ground, we like to think we’ve got the answer to most things, and very irritating it is, sometimes, for the rest of the world! The reflection document will be an interesting read — all the drafts are publicly available on the conference website, I believe, so anyone who wants can see how it’s shaping up.
One comment haunts me. A wise Jamaican suffragan said “What we gotta fix is our attitudes.” The highlight of the sparsely attended and very tedious sexuality hearing was a Tanzanian brother who pointed out that Homosexuality is in no way a gospel issue, but one of “ethics and leadership.” The anger that stewed and bubbled around this is to do with our own cultures and contexts, our fears and anxieties, not the topic. This conference has demonstrated how much greater our community in Christ is than those who would tear us apart.
And, make no mistake, there are ambitious and egotistical lobby group people out there, exploiting the situation hard, lobbying, manipulating — wittingly or unwittingly doing the Devil’s work. Someone spoke yesterday of some man with a blue press tag in the Keynes concourse, not gathering information, but lobbying hard and handing out party literature. This is the work of the Devil. You know it by its fruits — mistrust, irreconcilable anger, strife, emulations. The hallmark of the Enemy’s activity is accusation, half-truth, innuendo, sectarianism — all the works of the flesh named in Galatians. We cannot stop the Enemy’s activity, but we can identify it by its fruits and be wise about its source.
So we gotta fix our attitudes. God has been informing and healing them, and we have been able to taste here a bit of what it would feel like to be a healed community. Another phrase in my mind is from the part of the Joseph story in Genesis where he says “God let these bad things happen to you, but for good.” The rabbi drew it to our attention, and it’s a curiously compelling soundbite that has intrigued me ever since I first bashed through the story in Hebrew, word by word, as a student at Cambridge.
Is that the answer? It’s one answer. I’m just off to say goodbye to my bible study group, which will not be easy without tears. Liberal, Conservative, black, white, one in Christ. It won’t be easy. It’s gotta be done. We couldn’t fix our attitudes; but God did — now it’s over to us. Go home and think different. Model love. Be led by the Spirit. See how that changes things.