Buycott

Justice matters. Fairness matters. Ethics matters.

How we treat people matters.

We live in a global economy, where consumer choices we make in our hometown can effect people on the other side of the world.

How we shop, how we consume matters. It is a reflection of our values, whether conscious or unconscious.

This is a message that comes through loud and clear throughout the bible;

And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbour, you shall not wrong one another.”

Better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues with injustice.”

Don’t abuse a laborer who is destitute and needy…. Pay him at the end of each workday; he’s living from hand to mouth and needs it now. If you hold back his pay, he’ll protest to God and you’ll have sin on your books.”

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

So often as Christians, we are seen to react to things negatively, to be against things.

It’s so much better to be known for what we are FOR

Justice

Fairness

Ethics

 

Love

This is why we need to BUYcott, as well as boycott

Instead of making noise about what we are against and what we refuse to buy, how about making a conscious choice to promote companies and products that embody progressive biblical principles.

If enough people vote positively with their wallets, companies that promote ethical trading practices will grow, more people will be lifted out of poverty, the environment will benefit and we as consumers will not be complicit with exploitation.

God’s Kingdom is about his love being brought to a damaged, hurting world. It’s about overthrowing corrupt and exploitative systems and replacing them with ones that further the common good.

The Common Kingdom is intensely practical. It’s not ethereal, ivory-tower pontificating. It’s about identifying with those who need help, who need support, who need strengthening and empowering.

You can make a difference.

If you are going to buy chocolate, instead of just not buying Nestle, buy chocolate with the Fairtrade mark.

If you are going to buy clothes, instead of just avoiding fast fashion, see if you can find ethically produced outfits or buy second hand.

If you are going to buy cleaning products, instead of avoiding the most toxic, seek the most environmentally friendly.

If you are going to buy a book, why not see if you can find it from a charity shop.

Buycotting is a simple, intentional choice that demonstrates the values of the Kingdom.

As a closing thought, here’s Micah, a Jewish prophet from 700 BC with some timely advice….

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

    what God is looking for in men and women.

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

    be compassionate and loyal in your love,

And don’t take yourself too seriously—

    take God seriously.

 

Correct

Correct

“God said it, and I believe it and that settles it.”

A familiar phrase to some of you I’m sure. My church background is evangelical, therefore a key feature in my faith was believing the ‘correct’ things.

Particular doctrines or ideas were absolute truths, no negotiation.

The inerrancy of the Bible or creationism.

Unshakable.

It almost didn’t matter what archaeologists uncovered or historians discovered, what physics was telling us about the nature of the universe, or biology about humanity and the world around us.

“God said it, and I believe it and that settles it.”

I have learnt there are two big problems with this.

Doctrines I once believed to be integral and immovable are no longer that way in my mind. I have learnt about different traditions and understandings, read the bible through the lens of new life experiences and listened to wise counsel.

It’s ok to change your opinion, even if that means you disagree with those around you. This evolving understanding is an integral part of reading scripture and of faith itself.

Secondly, who decides what is ‘correct’?

If you’re Catholic, the answer is simple. For everyone else: not so much.

The appeal to scripture being ‘God’s word’ that we can just read and be ‘correct’ about doesn’t stack up. The sheer diversity of strongly held opinions within evangelicalism alone undermines that.

Does this mean I consider the bible worthless, or at best ‘life guidance’?

Not at all. I hope it means I take it more seriously.

I try to learn what I can about the society in which it was written, what it might of meant to the readers of the time and what influences and pressures impacted on the thoughts of it’s authors. This in turn helps me apply it to my life today.

Being open-minded towards scripture and its interpretation can be scary.

It is comfortable to be in a place where you agree with everyone and everyone agrees with you.

“God said it, and I believe it and that settles it.”

It can also be a straight-jacket and limit our capacity for growth.

Jesus constantly questioned the understanding of his contemporaries. His most caustic arguments were with the dogmatic Pharisees. He spoke in stories, parables and analogies. He often left his listeners to figure out meaning for themselves.

He rarely gave a straight answer. In fact he was more likely to ask another question.

He always valued love and compassion over ‘being correct’.

“God said it, and I believe it and that settles it?”

Change

change

I’ve always identified myself a Christian, but what that means and how I’ve expressed it has altered through the years. Over time faith grows, changes and becomes new. It’s a relationship: first of all with God, but also with others. This means by its very nature, faith is dynamic. Where I was when I was 8, 18 or 28 is not where I am now. This is a good thing.

In contrast, faith stagnates when it becomes static, when nothing changes.

Change is often profoundly uncomfortable and so we can be tempted to shy away from it. In the long run though, it is the only way we can grow as people.

My aim is to become more like Jesus. This necessitates change.

Times of struggle can be particularly change-inducing. We are forced outside of what we know, of what feels comfortable and we respond in ways that are not our usual pattern. It can be unsettling as our previous understanding of how the world operates no longer functions. This can include how we view God, and our place in relation to him.

In the book of James, the author spends part of his letter contemplating this truth and how we should respond to it. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

He basically says the difficult times in our lives are an opportunity for growth. It’s never easy when we are going through hard experiences, but it’s rare to come out the other side the same person we were when it began.

In his superb book, The Sin of Certainty, Peter Enns reflects on the impact that events and tragedies can have on our understanding of God, and the best way to respond; “The way forward is to let go of that need to find the answers we crave and decide to continue along a path of faith anyway… that kind of faith is not a crutch, but radical trust.”

I’ve tried clinging to what I knew before. It didn’t work. I’ve tried ignoring God and living as if he wasn’t there. That also didn’t work. What did work, was trusting my heavenly father, even though I didn’t understand what was going on around me. In the long run, just as the apostle James suggests, my faith did show it’s true colours, and I was changed for the better as a result.

How about you? What are the experiences in life that have brought you closer to God? Does Peter Enns’ assertion that we need radical trust rather than answers ring true for you?

A Common Kingdom

blogA worthwhile question to ask before starting any endeavour is ‘why?’ With blogging this question is especially pertinent. There are over 200,000 blog posts published every day on WordPress alone. What does my voice add to that cacophony?

The answer is, I hope, some encouragement and positivity. A Common Kingdom will be a blog about what it means to follow Jesus. Not a radical idea, I realise, but nevertheless one that I hope can bring value to your lives.

For me, Christianity should be lived in community. Mostly in person. That said, sharing experiences of God online to build each other up is a valuable element of 21st century faith. I would love it if A Common Kingdom were somewhere that we can explore belief in an open and positive way. We have a generous and inclusive God, and I’d love this blog to reflect this truth.

Another ‘why’ is that being creative is part of what makes us human, and reflects the image of God within us. Just as our heavenly father creates, so do we; whether that be music, painting, woodworking, writing or any other way in which you care to express yourself. I’m pretty terrible at most things on that list, but writing I can do! I trust I will encourage you in your journey with God.

Finally, the vast majority of the progressive Christian blogs I read and enjoy are American. There doesn’t seem to be as much content being generated here in the UK, and I’d like to be part of the conversation. Whilst I love our cousins in the U.S., I think there are some subtle differences in how we see the world on this side of the Atlantic, and I’d like to articulate that.

My aim is to post something new here every week, probably on a Saturday morning. For me, quality content is important, and rushing to get a blog out every day, or even every three days is not worth it. I’d rather take my time producing something I know is great and I believe you’ll enjoy.

I want to finish this post with a quote from Brian McLaren that inspired me recently. “Whatever we learn about the secret message of Jesus should make us want to seek more, learn more, experience more.” That’s my heart; to seek more, to learn more and to experience more of Him. I pray this blog, and your experiences could be part of that.