This weekend we had our CU houseparty (my last one! :() at Quinta. During Saturday afternoon there was a Grill a Christian, to give opportunity for the Christians there to ask the sorts of question that we would love to know the answer to, but are too afraid to ask. There was a question box that people could put in their questions beforehand,
which the panel of our speaker (John Hindley from the Plant), his wife Flick, and Andrea Jackson - former University of Manchester student and living legend, would attempt to provide practical, Biblical answers to.
It was a really amazing little event! Probably two thirds of the students at the houseparty were there, which was great, but the most exciting thing was the questions that were asked. This sort of event can easily turn into one where dry, abstract theological concepts are discussed, and people leave feeling a little more puffed up with knowledge. Don't get me wrong, theology is very exciting and understanding the intricacies of our God and the way he works is a very exciting thing.
But, as I have already hinted at, what was so encouraging and exciting about this session was how open and honest people were. There were questions about relationships people are in - with non-Christian 'man-of-my-dreams', recent converts still in a long-standing sexually active relationship with a non-Christian - there was a question from someone addicted to internet pornography etc. It was a very helpful time for lots of people.
The questions were answered wisely and sensitively, and all in all the session was very useful for lots of people.
However, though the session was excellent, it got me thinking about the nature of the church and Christian relationships. It was shocking yet refreshing to hear people talking about such issues. Yet, isn't it such a shame and a sad reflection on the depth of relationships within our churches that these issues which people are grappling with have only been exposed when individuals have had the opportunity to anonymously bring them to light? Shouldn't our churches be places in which people can be open and honest about the things that they are struggling with, where we won't feel as though we will be judged or forever classified as the 'porn addict', 'gambling addict', 'masturbation addict' or 'the person who is having sex with her non-Christian boyfriend'. Our churches should be places where people will lovingly point us to Jesus, get us to look at the cross where we can find forgiveness, and get alongside us as fellow redeemed sinners - not judging, but holding each others hand as we seek to follow closely behind Him.