Archbishop Richard Clarke in his November 2017 Roadshows spoke on the subject of "the Christian Backpack" and the 4 features of discipleship which he believes we should all be "carrying" with us all the time.
A backpack is something that tourists and travellers frequently use to carry the things that they need. As Christians we too are travellers, pilgrims passing through this world on a journey of faith. Being laid on the journey by Christ. As Paul said to the Philippians, our citizenship is in heaven and we should not get too attached to this world. Our faith is something we carry with us, but it is something to be shared, to be passed on.
In the first week's address Archbishop Richard spoke about "faith and "hope" and the second week of "truth" and "love."
Faith & Hope
If you were asked by someone what the Christian faith means - what would you say. Famously when Karl Barth, the great theologian and writer was asked to summarise his faith he said "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."
The Christian belief is that each one of us matters to God, was created by God, are loved by God and each one of us was created for a purpose. However we live in a creation that is broken and damaged by sin. We then have Christ coming into the world and showing us the fullness of what God is. A God of love, a God of perfection, a God who cares. A God who turns our ideas, our ambitions, our needs our wants, upside down, not just by his teaching but by showing that love to us, ultimately by going to the cross and dying for us. All of us need to be able to in our words and in our way tell others about our faith.
We need however to be careful to ensure that faith is not something we put away in a compartment and only use on certain occasions - when we go to church, when we pray, when we go to visit someone who is ill, when life is grime. Faith has to be part of our lives all of the time. The faith in our backpack is there for us to carry and to share.
Turning to Christian hope and the second thing in our backback tonight. We don't need to be reminded there are many people without hope in our world today. Hope can also become self centred, something for me when I die, self preservation, rather than our love for God. Two things relating to hope that we should carry in our backpack - that the God who loved us into being will not let us go in this world or beyond death. And secondly that whatever we do in this world for God is never wasted or lost. We may not see the fruits.
Our greatest hope is that as we travel through life with our backpack we are always walking in God's care and love. Which gives us an identity, a confidence which overcomes hopelessness.
Truth and Love
Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of 3 symbols of truth (1) the child who speaks the truth with innocence and freedom,
(2) the jester in a royal court who has the freedom to say what everyone else was scared to say, (3) Christ who is the ultimate symbol of truth. We are not just us seeking the true, but the truth is seeking us out.
We live in a world where truth is seen as a commodity that can be taken or left. Convenient opinion can now be seen as being the truth. People have lost sight of what truth is meant to be. However it is not about our opinions, what we want to believe, not what it is convenient to believe.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky suggested that the person who lies to themselves and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognise truth in himself or anyone else. So he ends up losing respect in himself and others and when he has no respect for anyone he can no longer love.
Martin Luther King junior said "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
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