These are not days for contradictions.
In the eyes of keyboard warriors you are good or bad. Heroes or villains. It’s simple. There is little room for anything else. And, of course, all this is judged by those who throw the online brickbats. If you don’t agree with the prevailing cultural expectations then you’ll be ‘cancelled’. It’s not good news for most of us. Because most of us are a mess of contradictions.
But the Bible is good news for mess-ups like us. Someone who has never read the book might think that that the Bible should hold the line on what’s right and wrong and come down heavily on those who cross that line. But it’s more complicated than that.
There’s a moment in the story of the church in Acts when people like us are included in the storyline. Up to this moment it has been a Jewish story, but there is a point when non-Jews get wrapped up into that story. And it happens through a man wrapped up in contradictions.
He’s a man of war, part of a state-sponsored oppression force. He’s a master with slaves that he owns. He’s a ruler, a leader in an empire that has annexed the lands of nations with a ruthless efficiency admired all around the world.
But he’s also a God-fearer, he’s looking for God.
It’s as though he has seen something amongst the Jewish believers and has pressed his nose against the window to get closer to them. But the pane of glass always keeps him separated from them.
But here’s the thing: God knows him. By name. He’s not an anonymous part of the crowd. He’s not just that Roman centurion. He is Cornelius. A good man in bad times.
The divine matchmaker brings two men who need each other together by waiting till both have their guards down. In visions he approaches both men and sets the visit up. Cornelius gets to hear that people like him are included in God’s great love story. And Peter gets to see that that’s true – however startling it was to him. With a dropped jaw, he says, ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right’ (Acts 10:34-35).
Be under no illusion, things are going to get a lot more confusing for the early church from now on. It’s one thing for people who are different from us to get saved. But what happens next?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Just let the fact that God knows us, with all our contradictions. Some of them we may have brought on ourselves, others may have just come with the years. But he knows our name. And far from ‘cancelling’ us because we haven’t got all our ducks in a row, he embraces us into his story.
Now that’s good news.
One of the things I have loved doing over the past 4 months is filming the interviews with people in church. And they will continue, but we will have a break in August. I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out more about the people who are in your church. If you would be willing to be interviewed in the future, please contact Neil.
1. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
On Thursday 7.45-9.00 Home Groups
The link is here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/998857193
On Friday 10.30-12.00 there is a prayer meeting that doesn’t need Zoom! We use Whatsapp and it works great. If you want more information contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
There will be NO ‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ this week.
Ian and Morag are taking well-earned breaks from 3-10 August and 17-24 August. So some of the activities that they take a lead in will pause over these weeks. We hope they have a great time away.
And Alex and Andrew and Dylan are away from 7-14 August. We hope they have a refreshing time as well.
2. If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in Church Suite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: https://www.salfordelimchurch.org/events/
3. You’re not alone
If you need help and don’t know where to turn, you are always welcome to contact Neil on 07771 558058