I want to pick up on a brilliant question that was raised by one of our church family on the Zoom discussion last Sunday. We had listened to James preach on Matthew 7:1-6 and then one of the members asked “is it possible for these verses to talk about a whole community, church or institution?”
I think that is very perceptive. Culturally, we have our blind spots, or a massive communal log in our eye if you like. This usually relates to our idolatry. It takes someone from outside to spot it, which is why I think multi-culturalism is a good thing and that cross-cultural missionary activity has its place today even to Christianised countries like the UK.
Another way that we can be alerted to these blind-spots is by events and circumstances. I believe that COVID-19 has held up a mirror to our society and to our churches. There have been plenty of positives in that. However, we are also challenged by what the mirror has shown us about individualism, isolation, and consumerism. We have seen things that have not been good. The question is whether or not we will use the opportunity now, as we look in the mirror to get that nasty plank taken out.
Another event that held up the mirror was the George Floyd murder and the Black Lives Matter movement. I was concerned by the way that some church leaders were quick to find ways to avoid the challenge by finding fault with the movement – shooting the messenger in effect. But even those of us who simply stood up and stated our repentance and supported the anti-racism had a mirror held up to the state of our churches. We are meant to have seen the dividing wall of hostility torn down but we are challenged to hear about the experiences that people have faced within the church. We are supposed to be cross cultural but that so often isn’t reflected in our leadership. Some churches are in different contexts to ours and you would expect a level of mono-culturalism but when we talked about whether or not we should have a simply video message from all the elders we realised that this would serve to highlight our whiteness. This can’t be right in our context. The mirror is held up, there is something nasty in our eye. We need to do something about it.
Different churches and communities will be challenged in different ways. What is the log that your church needs to deal with?