Themes I Love: Redemption

The thing about redemption is that it screams out “there is hope!” Even in the worst situations where hope appears lost, the story of redemption says it’s worth holding out for hope.

The theme of redemption is particularly something that means a lot to me. There are so many episodes in my life where I have messed up big time. It would be easy under the circumstances to have a low view of myself and hold out little hope for things better for me. I remember in the times of recognising how badly things had been messed up just reflecting on things and wondering how on earth could I ever be trusted again or how on earth could I even think that things could ever see the light of day.

It is during times like this that I know the love of God is real and it is redemptive. There are the tough seasons of confession and repentance that I’ve walked through and the recognising of the pain that my actions have caused. The separation, the hurt, the betrayal, the loss, the anger – all of that. Yet through it all, not only has God never given up on me, He has brought me into positions that continue to amaze and astound me. I lose some really precious relationships and He provides new and revitalising ones that continue to enrich and encourage me. I think I’m all alone one moment and a crew of folks are specifically put in my life just to prove the love of God is real and can be experienced with people who care.

Not only that, but then he goes onto call me to Himself and be a witness of His wonder as I go about His mission once more. I am not disqualified because confession and repentance are carried out on the basis of His grace that continues to say He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. He redeems – and it’s like He takes great delight in doing so – redeeming for His honour, restoring for His glory, displaying to all that even – as the hymn goes – the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. He loves it. And as He loves it, so He has got me into the thinking that it’s worth me loving it too.

It’s lead me to spend some time with folks that society seems to have thrown on the rubbish heap. Come alongside men and women who aren’t considered for much because of the mistakes they have made and the decisions they have acted on with dire consequences. I understand to a degree why others have ruled them out. I understand why others find it difficult to go past the grief and pain they caused. Ah but when I am able to work past the fronts, the blocks, the facades they present, it’s heartwarming to be able to speak into their own brokenness that there is a Redeemer. There is someone who is able to restore them and salvage them so that they can be found of worth in the only perspective that matters – the divine perspective.

It’s one thing seeing redemption stories in films and television dramas, they always nudge me towards the real life element of redemption that can be experienced. That’s a theme I love.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Truth and the Christian Way: Authenticity

It comes down to this. More than the splendid oratory, more than the signs and wonders, more than the public declarations and stories of the miraculous. More that all of that, can this faith be trusted? Is it for real?

The gatherings involve real experiences that people find genuinely moving. Often, however, they can appear like well orchestrated and elaborate performance. The players are just as much the audience as those on the stage. Dressed the right way, behaving in line with the requirements of the groups, it’s not always clear what is real and what is acceptable to the norms.

It’s when there is no performance, it’s when there is the mundane to deal with, it’s when the questions cannot always be answered, it’s when things are broken down, it’s in the humdrum of life, it’s there that we can get a glimpse to see if it’s real. Is this love real, or is it just a lovely sentiment that is never materialised in changed lives and close relationships.

The truth of the matter must remain love being the Christian way.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Truth and the Christian Way: Unity

Do you believe everything that we believe? Do you abide by the cultural norms that we apply? Do you stick to the dress code? Do you enjoy the songs we enjoy singing? Do you have the same reading of scripture as we do?

If you do, you’re more than welcome and surely the unity of the Spirit can be experienced among us.

Until of course, you happen to fail to comply, in which case there’s obviously something wrong with you and you perhaps need to be prayed for some more. Maybe we need to get some demons out of you because the devil has definitely twisted your mind from the truth. So return to the truth that you’ve always known comes from us.

That’s the kind of unity God loves, right?

Right?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Truth and the Christian Way: Options

Maybe it’s not the whole truth.

The book that these people follow makes some interesting statements and assertions. Among them is a kind of exclusivity about what it is to be right. It kind of implies that the only way for life in its fullness is through this faith in this one guy.

However, maybe that claim is a bit too on the nose. Maybe it’s a little arrogant and ambitious to suggest there is only one way. After all there are so many other options out there. Not everyone is born into a Christian society or exposed to Christian teachings and maybe with the variety of other ways to follow it’s not fair or right to suggest that there is only one way.

Then when you do some research into it, perhaps all the faiths are leading into the same direction anyway. So many similar stories apparently coming from the same source that maybe we shouldn’t get hung up on main characters, whether it’s Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha or whoever. Perhaps they’re all just different messengers giving the same message – be good to each other and be good to the planet and all will be well.

At the very least we owe it to others not to impose our faith on anyone. If it’s what we believe, we can keep it to ourselves in a bid to respect others and the pluralist society in which we live. In the shopping centre for faith and lifestyle, Jesus is just one among many items in the store for us to choose or refuse with nothing to lose.

That is at least, the position being proffered by the ‘humble accommodating types’. But I often wonder if that really is the truth of the matter. If it’s not, why are some who imply they follow Jesus, putting it across?

What is the truth of the matter?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Truth and the Christian Way: Gathering

The rows all point to the platform. On the platform is something they call a pulpit. The thinking is that everything that happens in the gathering will be geared towards the main event of someone standing at that pulpit and speaking from it to the others who will look on more or less quietly any noise they will make will usually be to encourage the speaker as he speaks.

The book that they rely on doesn’t refer to any of that as a guide of what should be happening when they meet. Yet should anyone challenge this, they will be met with great resistance and reference to statements made in the book taken in isolation out of context but conveniently to serve the purpose of reinforcing the status quo. To be fair, however, the arrangement appears to work for all the parties, because the spectators feel less under pressure being spectators rather than active participants. It’s cool, especially seeing as though that guy at the pulpit is the expert and they wouldn’t have a clue what to contribute because that guy should know.

It’s a neat arrangement and has been the case for generations, so why change it now?

Why indeed.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Truth and the Christian Way: Festivals

I came across this video very recently. I watched it and in the light of what I hinted at recently, I wondered: what would followers of Jesus think about it? Especially as in this country (the UK) a news article highlighted findings from a survey. It intrigues me because it gets me thinking again about what it is to follow the truth.

Part of that search continues to challenge me about why I believe what I believe and where it’s coming from.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Truth and the Christian Way

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

That is something I believe with all of my heart. That truth has become more important the more I’ve walked with Him. Embracing Him in this way changes things and how I view things too. With every passing year, I see the need to be more gracious and at the same time to value this truth for who He expresses Himself to be.

That comes with a cost, especially to things that some might hold dear to their heart.

Things like …

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden