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Displaying all posts tagged "Conversation".
Becoming a People of Truth
February 8, 2017 | Michael Gulker
Becoming a People of Truth
Having spent three days drinking weak hotel coffee, my friend and I are eager for a strong cup of joe. Finding a coffee shop in the airport, we place our orders. While waiting, my friend inquires of the barista her country of origin. The barista smiles tentatively and responds in her rich African accent, “I’m sorry, what did you ask?” My friend asks again, this time with a smile, and she replies, “Ethiopia.” “How long have you been in the U.S.?” “A year,” she responds. “And has it been a good year?” “Mostly, yes,” she says. “Well, thanks for the coffee … and welcome to America.” A small, seemingly meaningless act of kindness in an unkind and uncaring world can be, rightly understood, a remarkable act of defiance—an embodiment and foretaste of the hope we all long for. I wonder if our barista trusted that small kindness. Or if, in the midst of our political situation and the TV news playing behind her head, these questions only register as threats. The next night, back home in my church small group, one member hesitantly offers a prayer for the immigrants caught in limbo. The room goes quiet. Should someone else pray for national security? Have we broken protocol? No one knows the answer, but we all feel the fragmentation of our divided body, right there in our living room. The left fears the right; the right fears the left. Yet both the left and right agree the world would be better off if their team was more firmly in control. Small acts of kindness and glimpses of hope are harder when so much seems to be at stake. How did we get to this point? And where to do we go from here? Recently, theologian Tom Wright shared a talk focused on speaking truth to power (which sounds so noble, but truthfully I’d settle for being able to speak truth to my small group). Fortunately, his talk also captured how we become a people of the truth and how to discover the lies that speak through us. To do that, we have to expose the idolatry that has set up shop in many of our own living rooms. Let me quote Wright, who says it better than most. At the heart of the biblical story: Creation itself is understood as a kind of Temple, a heaven-and-earth duality, where humans function as the “image-bearers” in the cosmic Temple, part of earth yet reflecting the life and love of heaven. This is how creation was designed to function and flourish: under the stewardship of the image-bearers … Called to responsibility and authority within and over the creation, humans have turned their vocation upside down, giving worship and allegiance to forces and powers within creation itself. The name for this is idolatry. The result is slavery and finally death … We humans have thus, by abrogating our own vocation, handed our power and authority to nondivine and nonhuman forces, which have then run rampant, spoiling human lives, ravaging the beautiful creation, and doing their best to turn God’s world into a hell (and hence into a place from which people might want to escape). Wright, N.T (2016). The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion. New York, NY: HarperOne. I find that hell has invaded my living room. And I’ve opened the door to it by putting the nation (specifically, one political party of the nation) in the place where Christ belongs. I’m guessing I’m not alone. I’d invite us all during this time of fragmentation, anger, and misunderstanding, to pray for clarity about our idolatry, and see if restoring Christ to the center gives us just enough imagination for one small act of kindness—especially in the middle of our living rooms. This post is excerpted from our February prayer letter. To receive the prayer letter in your inbox, click on the button below. Subscribe! To the monthly prayer letter.
Listening--It's More than Just Tolerance
March 16, 2016 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Listening--It's More than Just Tolerance
TCF's Rob Barrett recently kicked off the series How to Stay in Conversation with "the Other Side" at the Do Justice blog. The series aims to help how to communicate about contentious issues in ways that build up the body of Christ, and we were thrilled to contribute to this important conversation. Listening to Christian brothers and sisters certainly helps us understand where they’re coming from. Often we even start to sympathize with them. But what do we do after we start to understand someone we disagree with? Many suggest that tolerance should be our goal. Difference is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but we allow space for others to chart their own course. Tolerance preaches agreeing to disagree, leaving each other alone. But we at The Colossian Forum believe that Christians are called to something much better—and more difficult—than tolerance. We belong to Christ and to each other. We share a common life, which Paul likens to a body (1 Corinthians 12). Many of our differences are intentionally given to us by the Holy Spirit so that we can build up Christ’s body (vv. 7, 11). Our differences aren’t inconveniences to be tolerated, but gifts for our overall good. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don't need you!’” (v. 21). The eye doesn’t tolerate the hand. It loves and serves it. But eyes think differently from hands. A healthy body coordinates its members across differences. We must listen to work together. Read more from Rob over at Do Justice. Thanks to our friends at the Christian Reformed Church's Office of Social Justice + Christian Reformed Centre of Public Dialogue for hosting us on the Do Justice blog!
Job and God – a good conversation
September 30, 2014 | Lori Wilson
Job and God – a good conversation
[div id="blockquote"] “I am angry with you…because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” -God, quoted in Job 42:7[end-div] If you’ve ever read through the entire book of Job, you may have found this verse a bit puzzling. It follows a conversation between Job and his friends, in which they wrestle with the meaning of Job’s sufferings. His friends are trying to help free him from his misery by pointing out what he’s getting wrong, and admonishing him to make things right with God. Generally speaking, the friends’ comments are spot on. In sharp contrast, Job complains and rages, blaming God for his suffering and misfortune. On the page, at least, the friends seem much closer to getting it right. Why, then, would God come out in Job’s defense? What is He holding against Job’s friends? Drew Lewis, friend of TCF, recently shared his reflections on this striking passage, pointing out that the Hebrew preposition translated in most English texts as “of” might also be correctly translated “to.” This leads him to suggest that God’s concern may have been less with what was said than with the way that this conversation was carried out. While Job’s friends spent their time talking with Job about God, Job’s angry outbursts were continually directed towards God. In other words, Job’s friends described a coherent (and largely correct) theological vision, but in such a way that more or less left the presence of the living God out of the picture. And though Job may have been taking some doctrinal missteps as he responded to his friends, all the while he was calling out to God in the midst of his suffering and confusion. To be sure, God wasted no time in setting Job straight on several counts (see chapter 38), but he also affirmed Job’s desire for relationship in the midst of deeply troubling questions. Furthermore, God went so far as to have Job intercede on behalf of his friends, and forgave their mistakes in response to Job’s sacrifice. Clearly, the relationships between Job and God, and between Job and his friends, emerged from this extended upheaval not only intact, but even strengthened! This passage affirms what we’re after at TCF: engaging difficult conversations - and even suffering - in direct relationship with God. While we do certainly encourage talking about conflict and controversy with our sisters and brothers, we structure our conversations with the goal of relating to God throughout. We are confident that our mistakes can be redeemed, and even in the midst of our own failings God invites us ever deeper into relationship with him – and through him, with each other. This is why we begin and end our forums in prayer, and why we often take midpoint breaks for silence and reflection. We build in time for confession and worship, and we frame our conversations with Scripture. Our goal is that at the end of each forum, in one way or another, together we might hear the astonishing words: “…you have spoken to me what is right.”   Drew Lewis is the author of Read Him Again and Again! Repetitions of Job in Kierkegaard, Vischer, and Barth, and the forthcoming Approaching Job. He blogs at azlewis.wordpress.com.
"Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues"
February 25, 2014 | Lori Wilson
"Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues"
You may have noticed how quickly conversations can get contentious when politics come up, even (or especially) among Christians. In a bold effort to change the way we go about these difficult issues, friend of TCF Harold Heie has just released a book that models a way of holding respectful conversations in the midst of political disagreements. In Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues, Heie addresses concerns ranging from immigration to marriage to gun control to foreign policy. In a unique approach to these issues, he begins by drawing on posts from an online conversation he hosted at respectfulconversation.net. Over the course of nine months, Christians who hold a broad variety of perspectives on these matters interacted with one another thoughtfully and respectfully, modeling a civil mode of engagement. As the online conversation drew to a close, Heie collected these contributions and worked to synthesize them, highlighting commonality or majority opinions and proposing next steps in working together for resolution. The result, Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues, invites the reader to follow the example of these thinkers, and to engage in difficult political conversations with grace and respect. While TCF has not yet hosted forums on the topic of political discourse, we realize that the church desperately needs tools to engage this challenge more fruitfully and charitably. Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues presents an approach that complements our work for hospitable conversation, and suggests a variety of entry points into this difficult arena. We are grateful to our friend Harold for modeling a better way and for challenging Christians to a more respectful conversation.
Geology, Darwinism, and a New Vocabulary
December 16, 2013 | Lori Wilson
Geology, Darwinism, and a New Vocabulary
At one of our TCF Discovery Events this fall, I was introduced to a biology teacher from a local public high school. This past summer, he traveled with his geologist son to investigate the oldest rock in the world, considered to be billions of years old. Unlike his son, this teacher is uncertain about the age of the earth, but inclined to espouse a young earth view; as a result, he found himself in wonderful yet sometimes strained conversation with his son. He is confident in his son’s faith and confident in his own. They have a strong relationship, but they have lacked a framework for talking about their differences. After hearing about The Colossian Forum, he felt like he had been given the gift of a new vocabulary for exploring Christian faith. He now had a way to explain why the tensions he had experienced with his son didn’t threaten their relationship or their faith, but served as an opportunity to learn to love God and one another more deeply. Excited by this possibility, not only for his son but for his students as well, he asked me to consult with him on how he might run “Colossian Forums” with his students during his lunch hour. Many of his students share a young earth creation perspective, but because he teaches in a public school setting, he finds teaching about evolution and Darwinism to be a particular challenge. I invited him to join me for a conversation about his experience with teaching the Bible in a non-Christian setting, and we discussed a number of ways in which Christians might be able to have this conversation in unique ways, since we confess that “all things hold together in Christ.” I shared a draft of an upcoming publication that outlines some TCF methods for engaging divisive issues while deepening our Christian virtues, as well as a number of web resources and forum examples to support his work. He left our meeting exhilarated and empowered to run the kind of conversations we have been inviting people to join. We look forward to staying in touch with him to hear how these conversations unfold and to support him in prayer.  
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