(Picture by: Joshtin Powers.https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshtinpowers/26953117889 )
We have the above Bible passage hanging up around the Jordan Café. And, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is like a motto for the Jordan Café it reminds us, all, of God who we love and God who sustains His work in the Jordan Café. It also reminds us that God is the source of our compassion and comfort and we are called to show His comfort to others. It calls us to reach out to those in our Community who are struggling, battling and doing it tough. For us to reach out in care, support, love, and with the comfort of God.
No one has ever really commented on the posters though. But yesterday that changed, and a lovely fella (who I have been getting to know more-and-more recently) came up to me and said ‘Sam, do you mind if I ask you a question about the poster?’ Yes, for sure! (Phew, finally someone is asking about the posters) You have to be ready for everything in the Café, so I was a little unsure where this was going to go.
He asked, ‘It is says God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, does that mean that Jesus is God?’
I definitely was not expecting that.
I replied, yes it does and I was able to explain that we believe in the ‘Trinity and that God is one in three, together, completely equal but completely distinct: God the Father, God the Son Jesus and God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. An incredible but beautiful mystery.’
My mate pondered this for a moment. He then said ‘Sam, I grew up reading the Quran / Koran and I see God and Jesus differently.’ He then quoted the Quran to explain that those who ‘believe in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord.’
Wow, this was getting heavy and I am supposed to be serving tea and coffee while having this conversation! There is now a queue of people waiting but this is too important.
I was able to say, again, that our hope is in Jesus, His life, death and resurrection and faith in Jesus alone. And we believe that ‘no one comes to the Father except through Him’, Jesus (John 14:6) and it is only by faith in Jesus that we will not die but have eternal life (John 3:16).’
It was an incredible conversation and one that was in love and kindness.
I said that I would love to keep chatting to him about it all. I know this guy has been coming along to Thursday Night Chapel and taking it all in. I invited him to the Bible Study and we are going to organise a time to catch up and keep chatting.
I tend not to get to intellectual or theological in these Blog posts but a warning this one will be.
During our lunchtime Bible Studies over the last couple of days we have been finishing up Romans and looking at Chapter 16. As a group we read v.17 ‘watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.’ We had a wonderful chat about what this means and especially in light of Paul saying that he has ‘fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ’ (Romans 15:19). The full, whole, Gospel even those parts we find hard to speak about (sin, repentance and so on). Those parts that may offend people, our culture and our community. My chat with the fella yesterday and looking at Romans 16 reminds me, and warns me, that we have to stand firm on the Truth, God’s Word, (especially as leaders) we must have sound doctrine and solid theology. Because if we do not, we can be easily swayed by contrary teaching or by different truths or we miss speaking the full Gospel. If these things creep in, they can destroy a Community, a Church. There are just too many warnings in the Bible to not take it seriously. To quote a few: We are warned that deception will creep in wanting to ‘distort the truth’ among us (Acts 20:30), we are to watch out for ‘smooth talk and flattery’ that will ‘deceive the minds of naive people’ (Romans 16:18) and for leaders we ‘must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.’ (Titus 1:9).
In light of the Biblical warnings, some of us on the team have also been reading Mark Sayers’ book Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience (and Sayers’ follow up book: Reappearing Church: The Hope for Renewal in the Rise of Our Post-Christian Culture). We are getting a lot out of the books! Sayers’ brings incredible insights from sociology and wrestles with the Gospel in the culture we find ourselves in. Sayers’ warns us about the ‘danger’ of being ‘colonised’ by ‘post-Christian third cultures’ (page 47). And, that this post-Christian third culture’s ‘great mission to prohibit anyone from prohibiting, it seeks to propagate its dogma that there should be no dogma’ (Page 47) and this impacts how the Gospel is responded to.
And this is important for us here at the Jordan Café because we can hear it all and we have to always be on our guard – we do not want to be ‘colonised’ by culture: Instead Jesus is God and God is our King! People have all kinds of different thinking about God, Jesus, the Bible and so on. People will have these different understandings for a bunch of reasons: Their upbringing, because they are seeking ‘fulfillment’ from different places or religions or because of the wrongs of Christianity or because it is just too hard and so on. We always listen; we have to be discerning and loving but we always do it standing firm on the Truth and the Word of God.
Here at the Jordan Café we want to be a place where people can meet God, where His Holy Spirit is powerfully present but also where people can meet God through us, through the comfort and compassion we show to others. But also, we want to be a place where people can seek God, where they can ask questions and wrestle with the things of God. And this happens a number of ways at the Jordan Cafe; through one-on-one chats, all the groups that are running, Thursday Night Chapel and so on. We always want to journey together in love, kindness and grace.
We know life is messy, we know that it is not simple, we know the incredible hurts, we know the complex ethical questions and we will never shy away from any of that. However, as has been the case for generations at the Jordan Café / Drop In, we will always stand firm on the Truth of God and His Word, because that is our foundation and out of that flows our service, our ministry, our pastoral care and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Sorry that was one long post. Thanks for reading, God Bless,