London Journal – Sunday, June 15

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy2:24-26

We have had fruitful dicsussions about how this teaching applies to us when we go to Speaker’s Corner.

We believe this Scripture does not rule out vigorous (or even loud) debate, where this is culturally appropriate, as for example, in Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts and in Hyde Park today. However, we are sure that this teaching means that we must guard our attitude, avoid anger, derision and a quarrelsome spirit, and we must love the people whom we debate. Pray for all believers who go to Speaker’s Corner, that we will have a God-given balance of courage and boldness, on one hand, and respect and love, on the other hand, knowing that only God can open people’s eyes to the truth about Jesus Christ.

We went with CS to “her” church today. This is a church for twenty-somethings, a new planting by Kensington Temple, which is a 4,000-member dynamic church in the Pentecostal tradition (Foursquare Gospel). This new group goes by the name of Tiger Tiger because they meet in the “Tiger Tiger London” club near Picadilly Circus. Talk about creative outreach! Ben Newton, take note.

JoLene and I were the only people present over age 32, I think, but the group is quite welcoming so we “old folks” felt right at home. For this being a Pentecostal planting and the group being so young, I was surprised that the singing and worship expressions were so moderate in tone. I am not objecting, just registering surprise. Perhaps their worship behavior is just part of the general Bristish reserve.

The meeting begins with a social time, over juice and coffee, and an ice-breaker, and you order your lunch. Then by the time the srvice ends, lunch is served, all at the expense of the church, not the individual attneders. I cannot imagine how long this arrangement can go on, but it is a gracious (and radical) expression of hospitality.

The message was based on part of the sermon on the Mount (you cannot serve both God and Mammon) and was not “seeker focused” in the way some churches in US are. The young pastor did not promise all blessings and self-fulfillment if you follow Jesus, but spoke clearly about the kingdom of God, obedience, service, and surrending our wills to the will of God. The culture of the group did not seem to be open to Amens and other comments, so I sat quietly in the back, but as you might imagine, my heart was rejoicing to hear the true gospel being declared.

Then off to witness training at All Souls Church, led by Jay S, and then off to Speaker’s Corner. I had an extended conversation with three men from “another religious faith.” They were well informed about the Bible and higher criticism, and I had to admit (to myself) that I am not as well prepared as I thought to respond to certain arguments. I have so much to learn.

AD, from that other faith, got on a ladder to debate Jay S in a loud voice. AD, too, knew the Bible well, citing various references from memory. He had certainly done his homework. And, of course, so had Jay. This week there were more Christians on the ground, compared to last week, so when the other faith people shouted a slogan about their leader, the Christians shouted “Jesus is Lord,” perhaps even more loudly.

(The astute reader who read my first blogs will notice that, for security reasons, I have taken a new approach and am omitting names and certain other details.)

Father, we want to love you with all our hearts and seek your kingdom above everything else. Help us to learn how give a reasoned defense of the faith but to do so with hearts of love for all people.

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