Saturday, April 30, 2005

Back on Song

I’ve been silent for a while. Being on the road and seeing much but saying little sort of sums up the last few weeks.

In traveling, I find the fracture of a routine and the need to synthesize feelings and observations slows the process of crystallizing thoughts into a focal point for sharing. Nonetheless, as one of my UK friends would say, it is time to get “back on song”. I’m not precisely sure how to translate the idea. I think it resonates with the notion of “getting back on track”. Nonetheless, I’ve found a bit of my voice today and wanted to speak. So, here goes.

“ The churches are empty. Religion is less relevant in the lives of most people today and this is a real contrast to my childhood. A relationship with God should really be vibrant - more meaningful in everyday life.” Comments of a Belgian businessman and friend during our discussions near Köln.

For my part, Christ’s ways are a contrast to the inequities that I often see around me. I find myself looking at life with an eye to wrestle with the discrepancies that I see in how society, European and Non-European, expresses and governs itself - especially in relation to the least, the most, and the rest of society. Moreover, I wrestle with the incongruent bits in my own behavior and heart. Yearning to know Him and live under His leadership is a persistent spark. It is a constant pursuit

Relevance is not a question for me. The yearning and wrestling with God has that sorted. Frankly. I cannot imagine life apart from a relationship with God. Yet, at a recent trade show in Düsseldorf, I saw how God seems to continually whet the appetite to know Him. I heard comments similar to those of my Belgian friend’s from acquaintances – quickly becoming friends- in the North of Germany and the UK. It is encouraging to see, when questions go beyond the rote lifelessness of religion and look towards a vibrant life and living relationship with God through Christ, that people – even in places that I – wrongly it seems- may have perceived as cold towards spiritual matters- are really quite keen to reply, “ Yes – living and relevant – that’s how a relationship to God should be”.

Why am I so amazed that people hunger for God? A Dutch friend made the comment over dinner that he thought people all over the world wanted the same things. Maslow’s hierarchy- maybe? Nonetheless, I do believe my friend is correct. Certainly, we do want to know how we fit in to the big picture. We want a context and a purpose. We reason that if there is a God and He put this whole thing in place it is reasonable that we yearn to learn of Him.

Exploring for evidence of the pervasiveness of God’s moving in Europe, I came across the following comments on a website called Hope for Europe. It is listed in my links column. So, I’ll end my thoughts for now; however, check out the summary from an all European gathering.

BUDAPEST PERSPECTIVES: TOWARDS AN AGENDA OF HOPE FOR EUROPE

FOUNDATIONS OF HOPE

  • We recommit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ in thought, word and deed and to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We reaffirm our submission to the whole message of the Bible and our belief in the historic doctrines of the Christian Church.
  • We will strive to demonstrate the transforming benefit of the Christian gospel to all in our multi-cultural societies, regardless of nationality, race or creed.
  • We give thanks for the many positive aspects of European life, but acknowledge we have failed successive generations by being slow to speak and act for the public good and to counter effectively the negative aspects of our societies.
  • We reject self-centred materialism and hedonism.

MEANS TO HOPE

  • We reaffirm our lifelong commitment to love God and our neighbour, European and non-European, as ourselves.
  • We will humbly seek to do this through being a community of praying, worshipping, welcoming, culturally relevant, outward looking people who know the Bible well and are united in multiplying, inclusive, evangelising local churches.
  • We will work for peace, justice, and reconciliation and will value as equals those seen as inferior by our societies.
  • We will participate more fully in public life, the professions and the arts.
  • We will encourage lifelong learning and continual personal development.
  • We seek the peace and welfare of our cities and particularly their deprived areas.
  • We will advance the roles and responsibilities of women within church and society.
  • We urge our politicians to engage humbly and responsibly with the rest of the world, champion the disadvantaged, to work for a healthy environment and responsible consumption, to alleviate poverty and to promote peace.
  • We will forge pragmatic, targeted partnerships with those of other persuasions to these ends but we depend on God alone to achieve anything of lasting value.

RESULTS OF HOPE

We do not dream of a European utopia, recognising the reality of the fall and of human sin. Rather, we envision a renewed continent in which growing numbers of people have a living faith in God, every community has a vibrant local church, peace and justice increase, crime and inequality are reduced, oppression is eliminated and scientific, medical and biological research is subject to Biblical ethics and developed for the benefit of all. We aspire for our continent to demonstrate the highest standards of liberty, generosity, equality, education, and respect for life, in obedience to God’s word.

May God graciously cause this to happen and use us in the process.

Link: http://www.hfe.org/

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