“And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.”
This week I’ve had the good fortune to hear a couple of heavy hitters in our Anglican tradition talk about their faith and visions for our church. On Tuesday, Virginia Theological Seminary consecrated their new chapel. The Archbishop of Canterbury was the preacher. (Take 10 minutes and watch the ABC’s sermon…might be the best 10 minutes you spend today.) On Thursday morning, I was part of a group of clergy and lay leaders from around the diocese who had breakfast with Andy Doyle, the bishop of Texas and heard his views on what the church needs now in order to thrive and grow.
In both instances, the speakers made no apologies for their faith, their belief in the Gospel, or their love of the church. They also were very honest about the state of the church, their struggles with their faith, and hope in the salvation of the Gospel. And I suppose one would hope that all of the above would be the case for bishops in our church.
But what about how we go about talking about our faith? I think we are a bit more reserved when it comes to talking with others about our faith…if we ever do so at all. And I fear that the reason why is that we are afraid we will offend someone if we speak openly about our love of God, Jesus, or the Good News of our salvation. Time and time again I’ve met ordinary people (not bishops, archbishops, imams, rabbis, etc.) from other faith traditions who openly have spoken about their beliefs in their everyday lives and not once have I ever been offended by their comments. In fact, I’ve thought them brave for doing so. I was glad that their faith was so alive for them that they were comfortable enough to speak about what their faith meant to them.
What is holding us back? What are we afraid of?