Monday, October 23, 2017


The equation spontaneity=authenticity goes mostly unquestioned in our culture.  When the politician switches off the teleprompter and speaks to us 'from the heart', we feel like we've seen them as they really are.  It's the same in church.  We have a sense that prepared words, or actual written liturgy, easily imply hypocrisy, or at least are not the best way of expressing authenticity.

The gospel ought to raise at least a question mark here.  If the real me is not the person I experience myself to be day by day, but the person I am in Christ, then what is most true about me is not what springs spontaneously from my own heart but what is said about me in the gospel.  I do not know myself, not even from my own lived experience of myself, unless I know myself by faith.

One implication for the gathered worship of the church is that it should be a time when, through liturgical structure and content, I am able to authentically express myself - which is to say, I should be able to say and sing, in the company of the community, words which could never spring from my own heart, but which express who I really am.

Might the way of authenticity involve turning off my own inner chatter and owning the voice I am given in Christ instead?


  1. Great thoughts.

    I think I've mentioned this before, but it's struck me as a significant paradox, that we have died with Christ, and it is he who lives in us... so where have 'I' gone, exactly? Obviously we're not just puppets for Jesus' Spirit... but sometimes the language of the NT seems close to that. But no different to the mystery of the church at large being both Christ's body and his bride at the same time. The very same, yet also different.

    I've thought a lot of late about how my mind will need to be completely rewired to live a sinless life in eternity... what on earth will I be like? But you reach a stage where you're so sick of yourself in many ways that a complete transformation, whatever that looks like, really is a blessed hope.

    1. Well, am 'I' not hidden with Christ? When he comes, he brings 'me' with him, right?

      We're definitely not sock-puppets for the Spirit. I wonder if the question only arises because of our sinfulness - that we instinctively define 'having my own identity' as meaning 'my will being independent of God's will'. Jesus must be the answer: he was who he was, with a genuine human will, but his will always conformed to God's will for him.

      You're right, one tires of being sinful. It will be a glory not to have to fight oneself or be divided against oneself, but to know that what I will is what God wills, through and through!

    2. I agree - I just mean that 'I am hidden in Christ' seems to be in contradiction to 'I no longer live but Christ lives in me'. I think that's a deliberate mystery too high for our comprehension, like the church example, or a married couple being two yet also one flesh. Things to be held at both ends rather than resolved.

      The future transformation will also solve more mundane things like boredom, uncertainty, or restlessness. I can feel like such a strange bundle of various desires and ambitions and puzzlings, often directionless, that it's hard to imagine being in eternal peace without some significant re-engineering, whatever glimpses of peace I catch now.