|Gloom. In the half light, where people forget themselves, you get to see who they really are.|
I was part of the Jesus Fellowship for more than twenty years. I arrived as a broken man on the tale end of more than a year of homelessness and psychosis. Being at New Creation Farm and part of the Jesus Fellowship saved my life.
Part of the message of the church was love, commitment, the kingdom of heaven and sharing lives and possessions. Those values resonated in me as the things that I valued most in life and how I wanted to be.
Over those twenty years I've been on my own journey, as everyone is. I've arrived in a very different place, with very different beliefs (although many fundamentally the same depending on how you express it) than the beliefs I took on.
I've struggled with my involvement in the church for a long time. In practise a lot of it seemed so unloving and judgemental. The decision was finally made for me a few weeks ago when a preacher at the Jesus Centre on a Sunday morning stood up and preached a message saying that the root of depression was self pity and self pity was from the enemy.
I got up and walked out. Not the strongest of responses I know but I couldn't see to do anything else. Lots of of people saw how awful it was too of course.
An apology was made, about four weeks later by someone else and I wasn't present. The apology was for implying that self pity was the root of depression. The apology didn't match the events of course. That same preacher up until a few months ago would regularly preach hatred for Islam on his Facebook page. A few weeks on and he was preaching again at the Jesus Fellowship.
I just can't have anything to do with that kind of religion any more. It's not the whole story about the Jesus Fellowship. The values I fell in love with are still there and the most beautiful people I know are part of that church, or attend its meetings from time to time. That dead and horrible religion is part of the whole truth about the church though, and I can't be a member of a church where that's even part of its message.
That's why I'm no longer a member of the Jesus Fellowship. Getting to this point though just about broke my heart. I love to be committed and stay true to my word. It's just not always possible if you're really going to be true to love though.
I'm considering other churches in the area where we live. I've lived in and around Bugbrooke for more than twenty years now, coming up for fifteen of those years as a married man. I've made one brief visit to the Vineyard Church in Northampton, who seemed like such lovely people, I'm not entirely sure they'll cope with me, but they really looked like the sort of people who would give it a try. That's as much as can be asked I think, I'll see how it goes.
They're "bible believing" which is worrying, but of itself forgivable. I think I'll give it a go and see what happens. I don't think I'm likely to join another church as it goes, but I'd like to attend and make friends.
They seem like nice people. It's quite easy, and very pleasant, to be friends with nice people if you can be careful about their sensitivities. Particularly when it comes to religion, but generally too, it's not always possible to be careful with peoples' sensitivities. Sometimes people want to hang on to harmful ways of being or thinking and it's very hard for me not to confront that when I see it because I genuinely think people will be happier letting go of the nasty stuff and I really feel like I ought to show that to people. Sometimes that makes people very angry which is very hurtful because I don't mean anything bad by it.
Having lived, by my own measure, quite a difficult life I've learned to really appreciate the value of nice people. I didn't when I was younger, and to that extent (which was a large extent) I wasn't a nice person myself.
I don't consider myself a member of the Jesus Fellowship any more, but I'll still go to some of the worship events. The most beautiful people I know are part of that church or attend from time to time.
"No-one thinks that faith itself is a bad thing, the big question is what do we put our faith in? I'm a big fan of the application of the abstract. How about we have faith in faith?"