The Good, Bad and Redeemed: Three Sides to One Coin?

Sometimes I think there are two ways of looking at the world. On the one hand, there’s no denying that life is hard. It is impossible to dispute the fact that, actually, this earth is full of quite a lot of crap. Why? Well, it’s full of people, that’s why. And people are pretty crappy.

We see it everywhere. The article about some sicko molesting young girls; the news bulletin concerning violent protests against political oppression that most probably speaks of wrongs on both sides of the issue; the young girl on the school run with two kids under five, no father figure and a black eye; that guy at the office who constantly lies on the phone to clients, and you just know he’s also cheating on his wife.

And not just people. We see it in nature too. As I sit and write this, the headlines of the last few weeks have been filled with scenes of devastation caused by earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

The problem… Sin. Everything’s just completely out of sync. Creation. Humanity. Everything… We’re fallen, broken, stained, corrupted- marred beyond repair.

Or are we?

See, then there’s the other way of seeing things- the other side of the coin. For just as undeniable as the mindless mess of this marred world is, when one really stops to think about it, the shocking goodness that’s inherently present in this life. Again, this spans across the breadth of both creation and humanity. The startling power and beauty of unspoiled nature, from a sunset to a mountain to a waterfall. The unmistakable inbuilt spark of creativity which every human being possesses- the potential to be inspired, have ideas and make them happen, whether to better some set of circumstances or create simply for creating’s sake. The joy of relationships, the innate love people have for one another. The outcome of the practice of ‘play’, be it kids reveling in imagination or fully grown adults engaging in informal competition, that brings forth the mysterious happiness of, for want of a better word, fun. Laughter. Beauty. Life. All these are here in abundance.

Beauty. Joy. Peace.

Sin. Pain. Distress.

Two sides of one coin, both equally unfathomably true. So what gives? Which one wins? One can’t help but observe in honesty, that more often, than not, it’s the latter.

The sad fact of the matter is that most of the time, all the ‘badness’ of the world we inhabit somehow outranks and overshadows any goodness experienced in the lives we live. Or, if not, we at least focus much more on the downside. We just can’t help it.

But what if there’s a third way? What if there’s a lens through which to view all of life, the world and everything, that truly takes into account both heads and tails, but still provides genuine hope and, moreover, gives chance to honestly experience an ‘explosion of joy’…?

Some of us believe there is. We call it Redemption.

See, if what we read in our Bibles is true, that means we have to honestly accept and affirm both the beauty of creation and humanity as intended and the total depravity and corruption resultant of sin entering the world. But it also means the story, and our thinking, doesn’t end there. If we believe in the resurrection of Christ, and we believe in the outpouring of God’s Spirit to gradually empower and perfect and complete, and we believe in a Kingdom of God which starts out as the smallest of seeds but grows to become the biggest of trees, imminently irrupting this current natural order and the whole way of this weary world until one day it comes in completion; if we believe Jesus’ rising from the dead enables us to move from a realm of darkness to light and be in genuine relationship with God himself… Surely this changes everything.

Our thinking. Our living. The very way we view the world.

This third way of Redemption allows us truly to hold in tension all the good and bad as we ‘practise resurrection’- this way of seeing enacts a way of being that lives out the great Hope we have. It’s as if the coin always lands propped up on it’s side, and along the edge is written a higher truth.

What this means is that we cease to see the world around us simply as it is and appears to be. Not that we don’t acknowledge that, but that the present facts of the current state of play no longer need lead us to a prison of paralysis, as our understanding of Redemption and Resurrection allows us to also dream and envision and see what any given person or place could be.

This is not blind denial of one side of the coin in order to emphasize the other… but rather a holistic, whole-hearted, all-acknowledging recognition of BOTH… and a belief- a hope (both certain and expectant) in a third dimension to this discussion, and indeed, a future fourth.

That’s what enables us to genuinely seek to be an ‘explosion of joy’ in our area abandoned by Empire. If you want to know what that looks like, read on.

An Explosion of Joy

What does it look like to be ‘an explosion of joy’ in our community?

It means choosing the third way of looking at the world. Not just the bad, not just the good, but the potential for Redemption and Resurrection… in Everything.

It means living as people of Hope, who see beyond what is visible and base our arguments on evidence that is yet to exist.

It means Acceptance. An awareness not of what someone is now, but of what they can be… and the grace and patience to help them get there.

It means Art. It means Colour. It means going beyond the grey. Every shade of everything in the spectrum between white and black mixing and matching, complimenting and contrasting in inspiring, beautiful ways.

It means council-commissioned mosaics and murals instead of crude, crass and uncultured attempts at greed and ego-obsessed graffiti.

It means safety for those who are abused. A space created where vulnerable victims who fear their own ‘home’ can feel loved and truly say, ‘here Home truly is’.

It means cakes, crafts and globally redistributed finances as locally we reuse goods and a whole host of new relationships are, simultaneously, first forged.

It means guerilla gardening. A different kind of ‘bombs’ being thrown as more than one type of seed is sown- seedbombs, trees, trowels and topsoil the tools of engagement as community intertwines with ecology. Simplicity that supersedes consumption of technology.

It means smiles offered to strangers. Peace and faith instead of fear. A friendly nod or even a word of greeting instead of territorial, self-preserving glances fleeting as we pass our nearby neighbours in the streets.

It means Feast. Banquets of welcome. Hospitality and fellowship as old and new alike, those we know and those whom as yet we don’t, are invited to join us for abundant spreads of flavour and texture and Food, on more than one level- both physical and spiritual.

It means barbecues in the summertime to which random passers-by are, in fact, the guests of honour.

It means carol singing at Christmastime where the performance is portable and the audience is anyone.

It means Fun. Games with guidelines to govern creative expression of competing with instead of going into combat against. Camaraderie and comradeship as teams play the part of enemies within the game and so become cooperative companions beyond it, in Real Life.

It means a channeling of children’s energy into relating positively with one another as they cultivate collaboratively while adults watch on, themselves more subtly being bonded into closer community.

It means Music. Rhythm and rhyme no reason needing in every season, hopefulness breeding, in space and time positivity breathing and creativity feeding. Percussive backing beats and bold bass lines exuberant melodies meet in the daytime, vibrant harmonies complete amidst rain, snow or sunshine and the people on our streets, even if remaining outwardly still, inside they clap and dance and sing and more they always will, as tempo rises and falls to the movement of feet and symphonies stall then crescendo or simple choruses repeat. And it all does flow out of sublime selfless goodwill, and People are so blessed their spines begin to chill.

It means Diversity- the breadth of age, race, class and even overlaps of creed.

It means Unity- a coming together, and each playing a part like the instruments of an orchestra or the limbs of a body in any given endeavour to which we corporately commit.

It means Laughter. Jokes of which nobody is the butt. Stories, puns and recurring references that do not malign anyone. A comedy of innocence. A purity of humour. Laughter stemming from Good Reality rather than sordid slanderous rumour.

It means Reality. A conscience that consciously rejects cover-up fig leaves and constantly seeks to live Open in Honesty.

It means the presence of the living Lord in the here and now, the partial coming of the Kingdom moving more towards the whole, and it’s citizens not just physically, but spiritually Alive.

It means more than half-heartedness and lacklustre mediocrity, more than a compartmentalized, slice of the pie type faith that is merely one aspect to our lives, more than the vague notion that by our own efforts we might maybe be able to attain to something or see some slight level of change. It means faith instead of fear, a burning desire to Life now and here, an unparalleled passion and a cost-counting commitment. It means a closeness to the Author of life itself, and an understanding of Redemption that gives us reason and capacity to embody Resurrection and thus, to do, be and see these things.

This is what it really means to be ‘an explosion of joy’.

Testimony (healing)

What are the things you don’t see now days?
This was the question asked by my group leader in Alpha Course here at All Hallows Church a few weeks ago.
My answer was that we do not see many miracles in the contemporary world.
And here I am standing after few weeks, in front of you all to share my testimony and to thank and praise God, that:
He is same all powerful, able to perform miracles. He is amazing God, He is so loving, and so wonderful beyond our thoughts and imaginations.

Here is my story:
A lump was removed from my neck on 1st of December last year and I was diagnosed with Lymphoma or Lymphatic cancer by a medical group of 14 doctors and referred to the Bart’s hospital for chemotherapy treatment in January this year.
The Consultant at Barts arranged a series of blood tests, bone marrow tests and CT scans to establish the intensity of the cancer cells for appropriate treatment.
On 24th February I was told by my consultant that all the reports are clear and no further cancer cells were found in the blood, bone marrow or any other part of the body. I have been declared all clear by another team of 14 doctors at Barts, and no further treatment is required.
The doctor said to me twice with full confidence that everything is fine, there is nothing to treat, go and celebrate and enjoy.
I call it a miracle because:

• I was prayed for healing by my local parish.
• My whole family was praying for my miraculous healing.
• All my Christian friends were praying with me and in my absence and were seeking the power of God to remove that cruel disease out of my body.
• Every Wednesday early morning 15000 people on the Internet were praying for my healing arranged by a prayer group called Kingdom Partnership.
• Every Saturday morning 6am, a local church group was praying for my healing.
• My Bible study group in Barkingside and Christian brothers and sisters in Goldings, Loughton
• I believe in God’s healing through His living word. You can always share Psalm 103: verses 1-5, Isaiah chapter 53, Proverbs 4:20-22 and many more parts of Scriptures to the people suffering with different diseases and illness.

So, I stood firm in His word, I believed in the healing power of God in response
To the prayers of His saints…… all of you who were praying for me, and I trusted in His Holy Spirit who is my comforter and helper.

Finally, I would like to say that the Word of God, and His Spirit worked together to perform this miracle of healing in my life in response to the prayers of his Church.

Praise and glory to God who has done great things for me and keeps his promises forever.

Thank you for your prayer and support which keeps me peaceful and strong.

Please pray that I stand firm to be His true witness. AMEN

Jasmine Kamran