Be the change you wish to see in the world
Rev Phyllis Thompson, from the New Testament Church of God, shares our Reflection of the Month for July 2020...
History and education are intricately connected. To my mind, education at its best has much to do with the quest for truth and wisdom as well as the development of skills to discern and apply the truth to experience along with the courage to 'be the change we wish to see in the world'. Our experience embodies our individual and corporate stories and a good education enables us to examine and thankfully learn from our past. If this were not the case we would be teaching and learning, advocating and celebrating Flat Earthism. History in the context of education has to do with learning from the past to make sense of the present, in the interest of bringing about a better future for the common good of humanity and all of creation.
Christians of all persuasions and traditions, according to my reading of Scripture, have a moral responsibility to ensure that we move from 'good to better and better to best' in every sphere of life - whether we call this evangelism, discipleship, integral-mission, social action and so on. In this process memory is recognised as a valued commodity as is the truth. The truth in our world is not static. The apostle Paul puts it this way: 'For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.' 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV). Our knowledge is partial and hence the need to learn from others - 'history' and 'herstory ', the story from the perspective of the 'conqueror' and the 'conquered' the young and the old, the experience of those in the global south and those in the global north, to list a few, and in the course of the learning make the necessary adjustments to make wrongs right with the clarity of mind that 'two wrongs do not make a right'!
The path of righteousness demands the abolition of certain 'sins of thought' and 'sins of action' and the narrative constructs this creates and institutes to the detriment of the 'sinned' and the 'sinned against'. The practical application of this pattern of thought presents a conundrum of 'ifs' and 'buts' for those of us who are committed to the mission of God to bring kingdom values to our life on this side of eternity.
As stated in our recent publication, 'According to conventional wisdom, questions inspire conversation and conversations enable learning and growth. Learning to ask the 'right' questions, engage in insightful conversations and then identify opportunities to practise what we believe...is clearly a positive way forward...How we facilitate opportunities for meaningful conversations about social injustice...are critical matters and challenges for our time.'*
For example, What does the Lord's prayer look like in our private and public world? In our local, national and global contexts?
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Is our theology, dogmas and language perceived as antiquated stories or valid resources to a better future?
In the pursuit of truth for life - the gift of abundant life as Jesus puts it according to John 10:10b, continual examination of our theology, dogmas and language is fundamental to our mindset and worldview. The more our quest for truth becomes informed by the recognition of our interdependency as a heavenly resource for our earthly existence, the greater equipped we become to address the challenges of our time. We are charged as the people of one father to be agents of change and in the process develop the language of solidarity such as such as 'our' 'we' and 'us' to guide our thoughts and actions.
May we flourish in the hope of our faith.
* P. Thompson (ed) Challenges of Pentecostal Theology in the 21st Century (London: SPCK 2020)
Phyllis Thompson has a background in development education and Pastoral ministry in the UK. She is currently a member of the Church of God International General Board of Education, an Executive Council Member of the European Pentecostal Theological Association and a member of the leadership team of her local Church in Northampton, England. She has written on topics to do with Black Majority Churches, and women in Christian leadership. Recent publications include her contribution to Faith of our Fathers (Pathway Press 2009), Challenges of Black Pentecostal Leadership in the 21st Century (SPCK 2013) and Challenges of Pentecostal Theology in the 21st Century (SPCK 2020).