In the last week or so, we have passed through a week dedicated to prayer for Christian Unity. This is good, necessary and always welcome. I am quite convinced that some of the worst Christians are church-goers, so this week is one where differences can be put aside (or denied) and unifying truths embraced (or snarled over, like a fence, depending on context). Where I am situated, we had a wonderful service to mark this week in the church's calendar, one that was moving, simple, and ecumenical (even of the choir from the Church of God didn't infact show up).
Christian unity is founded upon a shared Gospel and relationships, so I have been thinking a little about relationships over the last few days. As often happens when I consider something, the great Grey Demon that resides in the corner of my lounge speaks to me of the matter on my mind. And so it was, an advertisment for an Internet firm that 'won't find you a date, but instead will find you a relationship'. Excellent. So, if I bosh 'a Christian' in the option box that I would find on my internet, I will be given a relationship (and all for the measely sum of a million shekels, sir). Good'o. I have solved the church's problem.
Don't be daft, of course I haven't. This internet company, noble and legal as I am sure it is, will offer you a detailed questionnaire, upon which you will affix several thousand carefully considered ticks, on matters like 'my favourite colour is ...', 'my choicest species of gerbil is ...', 'when my left leg drops off I will call ...', 'my favoured brand of incense is ...', 'my narcotic of choice ...', 'I last belched the alphabet in ...', 'my excuse for not committing to anything is ...', and of course the old favourite 'my overdraft limit is set at...'. You tick your boxes, press"Enter" and your considered replies are taken by the speed-of-light to the little internet elves, who will compare your ticks to the ticks of another. Bingo, you have yourself a relationship. Bish bash bosh, everyone's a winner! You see the thing is, I think that there might be a problem here ...
I am not that old (a mere 37 as I write), I might be greying, but I can still see my toes, and I don't grunt when I have to bend at the waist. I can genuflect without help and have no living memories of Elvis Presley (which surely qualifies me to be an Elvis impersonator, but that is for another post). My point is, I am not that old. In my day, when I sought a relationship, I get to know someone, I enjoyed their company, laughed, joked, smooched, talked about every thing in the world - and that was the basis of a relationship when I were a lad. They were based on knowing the other person, the good and the bad, the awkward and the risable. We all have good bits and bad bits, cupboards with skeletons and the equivalent of manky feet that at some point we all have to declare. I wonder if, on the form on the internet where we put our ticks there is one that states 'the most grostesque part of my flabby form is ...' No, of course not. I might have to re-write the Wedding Service to 'Dearly Beloved.com, we are gathered together online to download the upload of N and N. Before God and before this online community, they will (in a chat room) make their solemn vows and press 'enter' together. If any of you know any reason or virus why these two people may not combine accounts, you are to delete now' etc etc
So, I foresee a rot in relationships between human beings. We don't like to mix, we don't seem to like to chat and relate - rather, we like to hide behind a firewall. When we do meet we like to do so behind a haze induced by some Sauvignon or else a London Pride, or we just plain avoid one another because it is easier that way. I believe that Christians should model the way things should be in our world, not exemplarise the opposite as seems so often the case these days.