Lent #6 – A Spirit of Fire

Written as a part of a Lent 2017 project. 

Luke Dowding

I can’t say that I’ve ever taken criticism well, constructive or otherwise. My GCSE chemistry teacher was prolifically critical of me (newsflash Ms Symons: I told you I didn’t need to understand any of that…) and I responded by not attempting to prove her wrong, but rather by digging my heels in and proving her right.

I wish I could say a lot has changed since my chemistry confrontations but I still respond negatively to criticism. I’m known for having a fiery temper (which appears to be hereditary), and I can often allow my passions to run ahead of me before engaging my brain. Perhaps on a good day I can activate that function before responding to a critical comment, but catch me off guard and I’m ashamed to say I revert back to that bolshie teenager who would rather keep digging his hole before accepting any offer help to climb out of it.

During our weekly Soho Gathering meeting last Thursday, I re-encountered this aspect of my personality when questioned about my approach to Scripture. The questioner asked how, if we don’t read our Bibles daily and first thing in the morning, do we engage with God when Scripture is our best route to the understanding of God’s relationship? I fundamentally disagree with the premise of the question because although I regard Scripture highly, I do believe we must be careful to distinguish between the word of God in the Bible and the Word of God as found in Christ.

Because of my disagreement, and the consistency to which I have been asked this question and experienced the derogatory tone which accompanies in my Evangelical past, I didn’t take the time to breathe, count to 10,  or any of the other self-help advice we’re told to before speaking: I jumped in, two feet first and probably with a level of intensity that was completely unwarranted.

However, regardless of my tone or the motivation behind the questioner’s question, it did serve to remind me of my Lenten commitment: to reengage with reading Scripture in a devotional way. Have I been as devout or intentional in my reading over the last two weeks as I would have liked? No. Did my recent conversation challenge me to think again about the prevalence and role of Scripture in my life? Yes, I think it did.

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Luke has a degree in Theology from Spurgeon’s College and is currently studying for his Masters in Biblical Studies at King’s College, part time. The rest of the time he works as a freelancer in business management and administration, attempts to journey with the Baptist Union of Great Britain on LGBT+ inclusion, is a Deacon at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, and works on projects such as Soho Gathering (@sohogathering). He is married to Steven and their wedding was the first same-sex marriage to be celebrated at Bloomsbury.



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