Love, Sin and Prophetic Witness (From Rue St. Denis, Montreal)

Again, let me restate my liking for Montreal. This is an awesome city, and the people seem quite interesting (even if the cute girl behind the counter didn’t seem to know much about Newfoundland).

Anyway, today was a quite full day. As you know, I was on my way to Church here when I last wrote. I went to the People’s Church of Montreal, a moderate sized independant evangelical Church (English congregation). I really enjoyed the welcome we got, and I enjoyed greatly the ability to sing some great old hymns of the faith to the top of my lungs. I was also pleased to note their wall of supported missionaries in the basement. Unfortunately, some of my companions had a more negative experience of the Church. Admittedly, there was some warrant, as the pastor clearly seemed unable to come to a point in his sermon. I guess this was a side effect of what he called exegetical preaching, but among a group of people with differing faith perspectives, coming to a point, even as you exegete scripture, would be beneficial.

That said, as I left I noted that a young man was asking about being baptized. In many of the Churches represented at the conference, that would be rare, though apparently this church has a class for baptism running every couple of months.

I also got a chance to discuss emergent with some girl at the conference who’s presently reading “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell. Erik, if you’re reading, I can’t thank you enough for sending me that one (even if I disagree) it meant I could at least hear some of what she said.

The afternoon was nice, we went to a cabane a sucre. Nice and all, but I think I shall be on a sugar high for a week.

The evening session was the first keynote by Dr. Jenney Plane Te Paa. She’s a bigwig theologian in the Anglican communion, from New Zealand. Needless to say, since she’s a speaker at a largely ecumenical conference, her position is slightly different from my own. The talk left me a little disturbed (I will repond to it directly after I have heard all she has to say).

Afterwards, I was mad, and not in the kind of righteous anger that stays away from sin. God knows what he’s doing, however, and in his providence sent a brother in Christ. There is a couple here from Regent College (who seem to know Russell and Cara, BTW). Now, I’m not sure how well they like talking to me (as I get bombastic when I’m nervous), but the husband, was a credit to his college and his Lord as he simply listened to my concerns about the talk, and gently turned away my judgement and bitterness, while still building up what he saw as appropriate. Christian community preceeds me, as it’s based on Christ, not on my own ability. It also makes me feel bad that I didn’t choose to attend Regent if it produces pastoral people like that.

Through the experience I’m learning the way in which my heart, still sinful in many ways, can often turn a good understanding of something, and use it to place bitterness in my heart. It reasserts to me, how much I am still in need of Jesus, to be my righteousness, and to sanctify me into a better person than I could be by myself. When the Bible says that we should speak the truth in love (Eph 4:16, Phil 1:14-16), I think it’s noting that some of us (me) can use the truth as a method if getting judgemental, bitter and self-righteous. While that doesn’t change the truth, the resulting heart it produces in the truth teller is deadly. So as we speak prophetically (which we must do, silence of the truth and justice is not an option), we must be careful that we do not sin, and so do it in love for the person you speak to, and about.

Perhaps the best wording of it comes from Dr. Te Paa herself, in her talk of this evening: “Live on earth as you would in heaven”. As I imagine heaven to be a place of love, where we speak the truth of God’s greatness to one another, I can only say “Amen”.