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I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday (I’m sure he won’t mind me saying) and it struck me again how radical Jesus is.

We were practicing a song I wrote for a friends wedding. It tells the ‘love story’ of what marriage is really all about a la Ephesians 5. In it the women sings ‘I’ve heard a love story about a bride/who willingly follows and obeys her king‘. My friend voiced his feeling that we should rewrite that part, so I explained a bit more of the story behind it, how leading/submitting isn’t about status but about role.

My friend came back saying ‘you’ve just redefined ‘obedience’ – obedience is about one person giving the orders and the other following’.

Interestingly (as I pointed out) I don’t think it’s me who’s redefined that word. I think it was Jesus. In my opinion our big problem with the idea of obeying is that we want to be the ones giving out the orders, and that’s because we think status is found in being able to have what we want.

But Jesus comes along and blows that out of the water. He turns up and says ‘the son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.‘ He says if you want life you have to give it up. He claims that in being last you will be first.

Hang on. This is a guy claiming to be God in the flesh… I don’t think you get any higher status than that! But he says that in living out his identity as God, he lowers himself to serve humans! And he goes further. He’s willing to lay down his life for others, in obedience to his Father. He submits to his Father, even when the plan is for him to die and take the weight of wrath for our rebellion. I think this is one of the most powerful statements in history ‘yet not my will, but yours be done’. Is there not true freedom in this?

Does this give him a ‘lower status’? In one sense yes. He is humbled. Willingly. Yet, through that he is raised above everything else (Philippians 2).

It’s this kind of thing that makes me believe that the gospel is true. On a human level it makes no sense at all. But it’s not about intellect. It’s not about being clever. This message is so radical it needs a completely new heart, a new way of thinking, a new direction to be able to get your head round it. What a great thing then that God promises to give people that.

So as Kate Middleton doesn’t vow to obey her husband, perhaps she’s actually missing out… if Jesus’ life is anything to go by…

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I’m just reading 1 Peter 3:1-7 for some work I’m doing on marriage prep material, and it really is striking and counter cultural.

Wives are called to be submissive, even to unbelieving husbands. I don’t know about you, but often the image of a submissive wife is one of a defeated, subjugated woman, rather than a strong woman. A strong woman stands up for herself, asserts her views and gets her way. However the wife presented in 1 Peter is one of quietness, reverence and purity, focusing more on the ‘inward beauty’ of gentleness. Not a great one for feminists of the 21st century… or is it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Just doing ‘the Open Bible Institute’ with some of our apprentices (it’s an adapted version of a TCH course called ‘Welcome to Gospel Ministry’). This is a little exercise that I found quite striking.

“Families eat together, play together, cry together and laugh together. Families provide for one another. They share something of the task of bringing up children and they look after their older members (or at least they used to). Family members do not go and join other families when they are fed up with things. Families do argue and fight, but they do not stop being families as a result – they have to find ways of working things out. And you cannot opt for another family just because it shares your taste in music or reading or whatever. When you are with your family you can take off your shoes and slump on the sofa. They provide identity and a place of belonging. Families define for us what is ‘home’.

Read that paragraph again substituting the word ‘church’ for the word ‘family’ and you will begin to get a sense of what Paul means when he calls the church ‘the family of God’ in 1 Timothy 3:15.”

This also relates to how we want to do mission. As we ‘do’ mission we are calling people to come home, to come into the household of God by Jesus’ death for them (Ephesians 2). So what we want people to see is us living in that household, that family, so they know what we’re calling them to, and they want to become part of it. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this kind of family?!

A thought struck me yesterday as I was reading something about Ephesians… O’Brien argues that Ekklesia in Ephesians is primarily about the heavenly gathering. So when Paul says in 3:10 that the church displays the wisdom of God, he is talking about the heavenly church. This seems to be to say it is not about the earthly church. It is quite striking that O’Brien finds it very hard then to say anything concrete about the earthly church.

But then I got to thinking… So what? Read the rest of this entry »

If you want to know a little more about what the ‘Northern Training Institute’ is about, check out the new NTI Papers. They started in April, so there are now 3 of them – well worth checking out.

http://ntinstitute.wordpress.com/nti-papers/

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The first one is a tidy and more academic version of some of my early blogs on ‘what is the church’.

http://ntinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/nti-papers-no-1-congregation-or-community-michael-tinker.pdf

The 2nd and 3rd are by Chris ‘Del’ Delahoyde and Jonny Woodrow on ‘The end of Christendom and mission in the local church’ and ‘The book of Leviticus and the doctrine of atonement’.

http://ntinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/ntipapers02.pdf

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http://ntinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/ntipapers03.pdf

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Enjoy!

At the weekend my wife and I and my parents and brother went up to visit the Derbyshire village of Eyam. Eyam is famous for quarantining itself when the inhabitants were infected with the plague in 1665-1666. They set up two boundary markers beyond which they would not go, and no one would enter. People left food for them at these markers so that they could survive.

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As I stood just beyond the marker (see above) and looked out over the valley I was struck again by how great God’s creation is. But then I was also struck with how great God’s wisdom is as well as I realised it wasn’t to be found ultimately in what I saw in front of me… Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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