In a previous post I began to build on Steve Kneale’s post on the challenges of “logs and specks” in the eye of the church. Steve said that the challenge is that we often cannot see our own logs to remove them.
Here are some further thoughts. First of all, whilst I may not be able to see something to remove it, I can usually feel if there is something there. If it is a speck it will irritate. If it is a log it will trip me up all the time. So whilst we may not be able to detect what the exact problem is and resolve it, we should if our hearts are alive have a sensitivity to know that something is not quite right. That’s when it is time to get help from others.
Secondly, I want to suggest that this is where it is important to learn to listen to what others are saying, even if we don’t like how they put it or agree with everything. It means that we are ready to be challenged by them and learn from them before we rush to correct them. This is why I expressed concern at the way some were so quick to rush out and find fault with #BlackLivesMatter and #TakeTheKnee before first taking time to hear the heart cry. Here are some developed examples.
Thabiti Anyabwile has been raising the issue of race within the church and culture for some time. Sadly people have been quick to jump on him and accuse him of being woke. Here in the UK we can learn from people like Ben Lindsey who has written “Why we need to talk about Race in Church.” But maybe we also need to be reading people who will make us feel more uncomfortable?
I find the things that my friends Duncan Forbes and Litabny say thought provoking and challenging. I don’t always agree with them. I may not always like how they put things. However, these are brothers with a concern for the Bride of Christ who love God and his people and need to be heard.
We have been challenged quite a lot recently about the treatment of women within the family and the church. This includes how or if women are encouraged in the life of the church to flourish but it also means that we have had to face up to serious concerns about abuse and abusive cultures in the wider church too. Whilst some of those abuse cases have affected men primarily, generally a lot of abuse, especially sexual abuse and harassment is against women.
Now, some of the people who are challenging on these issues may have a different view on leadership and the home to the one we share. However, they still have vital things to say. Are we listening to them?
I’ve recently read two books “Worthy” by Elyse Fitzpatrick & EM Schumacher and “Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Aimee Byrd. I have observed that in terms of tone, “Worthy” comes across as pastoral whilst “Recovering…” comes across as more polemical and angrier even. Not everyone liked me saying this because “angry” and “polemic” have negative connotations these days. However, I don’t see those as bad things, anger is understandable at serious injustice. I have learnt from both. Again that does not mean I agree with everything they say but my first priority should not be to jump on them for those minor differences. It is concerning to see that some people have jumped on the women involved in quite harsh terms. The irony is that they are disagreeing harshly with people from within their own tradition. If they cannot learn from them, how will they hear the voices of people further removed from their constituency?
If we are going to see these logs and specks removed, we will need to learn to listen to others and allow them to challenge us. We will need to slow down in our rush to defend ourselves at to correct them. We need to take the time to discern what they are saying and allow God to use them in our lives and churches.
 I’m not quite sure when Woke became a derogatory term -but the fact that something seen as positive by those experiencing discrimination has been turned into an insult by majority cultures probably says something in and of itself