Easter weekend has been pretty awesome. I spent the Friday and Saturday in London with Liz and Pete from my Cuba team, Sunday with family, and yesterday with friends at the beach - a tiring yet highly enjoyable mix!
London was especially good. I always enjoy visiting (especially as more often than not it's to do exciting things/see exciting people) but this was the first time that the thought of living there genuinely crossed my mind. I'm very settled in Manchester and plan on being here for at least another year, but the idea of moving to the capital does seem very exciting. I guess it all depends on jobs really and where God wants me to be ministering.
Which leads me onto my next muse.... I think i'm becoming a lot more theologically/ecclesiologically conservative in my old(er) age. It's probably as much to do with the people I associate with such a position but sometimes it just seems really appealing! I love my church, and am so grateful for the spiritual growth I have experienced therein, but I really don't won't to neglect more traditional aspects of Christianity solely because they are traditional. I am a very strong believer that relgion for religion's sake is unhelpful and unbiblical, and I see a lot of irrelevant things in the church that only continue because 'that's what we've always done'. But at the same time, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are often things that more charismatic-y type people (of which I firmly count myself one) can neglect in the fear of being 'religious' that actually are funadmental Christian practices/disciplines and need to be outworked and developed.
So my goal is this: get that balance between operating in and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit, and having a solid and disiciplined lifestyle that delights in the word of God and lives it out in a uncompromising, radical and relevant way. My limited experience seems to suggest to me the following sweeping generalisations: Conservative Christianity seems to provide an exceptional foundation and grounding for believers, primarily through biblical study, yet suffers from an outside perspective for being stuffy, irrelevant and elitist. On the other hand, charismatic Christianity excels in freeing people to worship God wholeheartedly and see the outworking of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives and ministry, yet sometimes lacks the strength of foundation of spiritual discipline that is greater honed in the conservative church.
As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't be a division between conservative and charismatic - we need to be a new breed of Christian that communicates the grace of God in a powerful ways to a generation that has become so greatly disenfranchised with 'church'. I shouldn't be worrying about which 'camp' I lean towards, I should just be out there living wholeheartedly for Christ - in all its fullness. Easy.
I picked up an old F.F. Bruce commentary on Romans from an Oxfam on Portobello Road at the weekend. I've read the start of the introduction and loved this quote, so I thought I'd share!:
"But it cannot be too strongly emphasised that Paul's theology was not based primarily on study and speculation. It was based primarily on his own experience of God, who 'revealed his son' in him (Gal 1:16) and flooded his inner being with divine love by the impartation of His Spirit ( Rom 5:5)"