Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Tentative Post...

I'm hesitant to write this post as it is very early days in the aftermath of Norway's tragic 24 hours.

Anders Behring Breivik has apparently identified himself to be a conservative Christian. I have watched twitter and facebook in the last few hours as believers have mainly distanced themselves from this man's horrible crimes. Others, mainly from without the church have been more critical: urging Christianity to get its house in order. Still others have used this horror to launch random attacks on faith.

I am torn. Whilst the actions of this man simply bear no resemblance to the actions of Jesus, or to how most of us would live as Christians, we have to acknowledge that we have failed as the church.

I think we have failed because Anders Behring Breivik could have been in one of our churches. The man allegedly identifies as Christian. To my mind one can only really be a Christian in a community. And so where was that community?

This is not an attack on the Norwegian church. Its a question. What has gone wrong that someone who professes faith has not been brought into a community of love and care and grace and transformation?

Allow me to be cruel. I think most of our churches are too lazy to try and engage such people. You know the ones; the difficult, the awkward, the ones with views that leave us cold. The ones that people don't flock to over coffee. In short- the other. Sometimes its just so hard to have the conversation again and again that actually we are perhaps relieved when they move on to another faith community. Often only a few people in any one church will even bother to try.

However church communities are vital for us all. Our edges are bumped off in community; we are made disciples in community. The internet cannot do that- only other people with different views can do that.

The truth, or some version of it, will emerge from Norway over time. But as that happens may I take responsibility for the other- to include, to challenge, to learn from, to teach. Lord have mercy.