Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Lately I've been watching the rather wonderful BBC series 'Coast' on DVD, so the sea was on my mind yesterday as I sat down with the Bible, my sketchbook and my journal. At present I'm reading through Isaiah. In Isaiah 41, I found the verse:
'Listen to me in silence, O coastlands, let the people renew their strength; let them approach, let them speak; let us together draw near for judgement'.
The idea of Christians as the coastline appeals to me. The shoreline is different. It does not normally blend gradually with the sea and it is often markedly different from the land behind it. In places the sea pummels the land, breaking off huge chunks and dramatically altering the landscape, as it has done in Dunwich in England. In other places the action is more gentle as the sea slowly moulds the shore to new shapes by depositing shingle or pebbles to form spits. Only one thing is certain, however long the process takes, eventually the sea will win.
It seems that Christians are neither of the barren material world, which we have left behind, nor yet wholly committed to the Holy Spirit. We are the coast. Like the sea, the Spirit washes into our lives, changing us in great chunks or gradually 'precept upon precept, line upon line' (Isaiah 21:10)
In silence we allow the living water of the Spirit to act in us. As we approach God in silence, we are renewed. At times, out of the silence, we are given a message in spoken ministry: 'let them speak'.
However, when we draw near to God, we do not do so alone. Isaiah says, 'Let us together draw near for judgement'. I used to think of this as the meeting of two opposing sides: the sinners on one side, God on the other. Recently, I realised that it is also an invitation. Yes, the two opposing sides do meet, but we do not need to fear the judgement because God is on our side all the time. Jesus stands on the beach and is counted together with humanity.