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When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21. 21-22

Everywhere you look you can see flawed churches and theologies: whether it's prosperity teaching or the social/ salvation gospel divide or middle-class veneer. None of these aberrations was intended. They came about through sloppy teaching, narrow thinking and the inherent worldliness which grips most of us, if we're honest. It blunts the Church's impact and it compromises the way we and others see ourselves.

Jesus was so consistent in his pursuit of God's will and in his fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah that he was not afraid to confound expectations and challenge the conventions of his day. Not only did he not conform to social pressure, he was unafraid of opposition, whatever its origins - the temple authorities, the Pharisees, the Romans, his own family.

Yet criticising those who appear to reduce faith to attending church on a Sunday, or despising those who seek prayer for trivial inconveniences while ignoring the plight of the poor or global emergencies is also wrong. We have no idea where they are on the journey of faith or what is going on behind the facade of their outward appearance and behaviour.

When the newly restored and freshly commissioned Peter asked Jesus about the destiny of another disciple, Jesus effectively told Peter to mind his own business. I wonder what the impact on church life would be if we ceased finding fault with each other and in the Church and concentrated on living faithfully? Easier said than done and, of course, Jesus reserved the right to criticise yet, as a principle, it would create a more constructive atmosphere.



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