Toasties: God and Misogyny

“So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27

One of the questions we’ve had a few times this year is about whether God, or Christianity, is misogynistic. And our answer is no.

The idea that it’s misogynistic often seems to come from the letters. Which is fair enough. Especially when, in modern society, women can expect to have exactly the same role as men.

But here’s where the difference is.

God created mankind in his own image. So we were created in God’s image. And we were created male and female. We were created differently. And yet we have equal worth.

It’s also good to remember that the Bible devotes books to the worth of women. Think of the story of Ruth – a woman who was devoted to her mother-in-law to the extent that she moved country to stay with her – and then became a direct ancestor of Jesus. There’s the story of Esther – a woman who from a poor family married into the royal household and saved her entire people. God can use anyone and everyone for His works.

And think back to Jesus. Who showed love to those who society most definitely did not love. Including women. Women who had lost their husbands. The case of the Samaritan woman at the well shows this so much. She had so much shame, Jesus knew this, and yet still loved her.

To be a woman is to be different from a man. But to be equally loved by God.

Toasties: Thoughts, Trust and Encouragement

God is so good.

The first few weeks of term have been so encouraging from a CU point of view. We’ve had freshers turn up who are enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel. We’ve had freshers turn up who desperately needed the Gospel and are beginning to find it. And then we had tonight.

I really should be in bed right now – it’s been a fairly long day and it’s already gone midnight. But I have to get this into writing before bed. Then I feel I can properly reflect on, and thank God for, such a wonderful evening.

The day passed off normally. I went to the Church Bible study, then had a couple of seminars, and then started setting up for the café we have at CU. In everything we do at CU, we aim to love, to serve, and to spread the Gospel. The café is our way of loving and serving, and hopefully the Gospel shines through that – we don’t want it to be too evangelistic, but we want to build up a healthy relationship with the college so that our evangelism can be more effective.

After the café we had a Bible study. There were over 20 of us there. We started in prayer and worship. The passage was from John, and the study was interesting and I feel like I got a lot out of it. We concluded in prayer and, excited after the Bible study, started to prepare for Toasties.

We got, relative to other weeks, a lot of orders. There were a lot of questions. Thankfully there was a lot of people on hand to answer them. And from those half-baked questions that just came up in discussion with flatmates, we were able to have some fantastic conversations. There were questions about misogyny, LGBT, and even about dinosaurs (although I doubt that was a serious question, and was just an excuse to have a toastie…)

And from those conversations it was hugely encouraging to see some genuine interest. I’ll talk in a later article about someone who wanted to know more.

As we were setting down, we realised there were a lot of flyers for our event tomorrow left over, so we figured it would be a good idea to put them into as many postboxes as we could this evening. I managed to get round about 10 houses before I got to a house where there were people smoking outside. I explained that I was delivering flyers for the CU, and they seemed interested. I had a long conversation about music with someone, and invited them to CU.

Thinking back about earlier on in the day, it had seemed so normal. But little things happened during the day. As part of my French seminar, I had to explain the relevance of the birth of Jesus to Christianity (it was in comparison to the importance of the French Revolution in the history of Republican France, although naturally Jesus is far more important than revolutionary Frenchpeople. No offence to the French, bien sûr!). I was pretty excited that I was asked that particular question. And then things improved immeasurably at CU.

One of the things that I really felt made a difference was our attitude. Our College Reps were stressed, dealing with life and work, and so it felt like we were putting more and more in God’s hands. It is something we try to do anyway, but it is often so hard to let go and put our trust completely in God.

This week, I feel, we left so much up to God. The questions we got asked were not easy questions to answer. But we spent time in prayer, with faith that God would speak through us and that we might sow seeds in people’s minds, that we might intrigue and inspire them to know God a little more.

And I am so glad we did.

Today was better than I could have ever hoped. I will probably be crying tonight as I thank God for all His power, His love, His goodness. I will be praying for every person I met. Every person who has heard some of the Gospel tonight. Anyone who still wishes to learn more, or who didn’t have the confidence to ask this week. For those people considering coming to the lunchbar. For everyone that God used in whatever way.

Tonight was so special. I pray that we could continue to trust in God, and continue to be a blessing to the members of our college. I pray that we could continue to answer questions thoughtfully, prayerfully and in a Bible- and Gospel-focussed way. I pray that we could continue to form relationships with our college, so that many more may come to know His glory.

Perhaps the Lord…

Toasties: The nature of the Trinity

Getting to know people is an important part of college evangelism. One of the best ways to do that is to be consistent in who delivers toasties. We get to know them, they get to know us – the people – rather than a random member of CU who they might never see again.

One of the questions we got asked this week came from someone who ordered last week. We were running rather low on orders, so someone texted them to ask if they wanted anything. And they did. So along with an order of 8 ham and cheese toasties, we were able to go and have a chat. And, of course, they asked a question.

The question was essentially on the nature of the Trinity. How, when the term is not actually even used in the Bible, do we know that that is the nature of God?

I responded by looking at how God is shown in the Bible. In the Old Testament, in particular (but also throughout the New Testament), we see God the Father. The creator, the one who cares for us and loves us. Through the Gospels, we see Jesus, God the Son. The one who came down from heaven, who was God incarnate. Then we see another aspect of God. The Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit with us. Each one of those is fully God, and God is each one of those.

Trying to comprehend this helps me to understand the nature of God a little better. When I understand who I pray to, who I worship, it really helps me. It helps me to understand just how awesome God is. Just how powerful. Just how present.

We left on a cheerful note, them promising to text back next week with more questions. It’s encouraging to see that they were interested enough to respond this week, and I just pray that this will lead to even more good conversations, and perhaps another Christian… 🙂

Toasties: How would Jesus vote in the EU referendum?

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” – Matthew 4:4

Toasties: How would Jesus vote in the EU referendum?

Or, to rephrase the question, what is the link between the EU referedum, addiction, and the feeding of the 5000?

The simple answer to the first question is “We don’t know”. Even if Jesus were eligible to vote in the referendum, which given that he wasn’t British he probably wouldn’t have been. What we do know, however, is that God is sovereign. And whilst each one of us has our own opinion on what is best for the UK (i.e. whether we are better off in our out of Europe), we can’t know the whole story. But what we can do is pray. Not necessarily for the outcome that we desire the most. I mean, we may inadvertently be praying for it, but that’s not important.

We pray for the best outcome.

I’ll admit to losing interest in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s the one thing that I’ve repeated every single week pretty much since I could speak, and for a very long time it’s not really had that much meaning for me. It’s just… well, the Lord’s Prayer.

But reflecting on that a little more. It’s the Lord’s Prayer. It’s how we are taught, in the book of Matthew, to pray. It’s an incredibly important example of prayer. And there’s one line that’s particularly pertinent to this:

“Your will be done”

Instead of praying to leave or remain in the EU, according to our own preferences, surely we should be praying that whatever the outcome, God’s will is being done. God is sovereign, God is in control.

So to answer the second question.

My college group runs text-a-toastie every week. It’s a good way of serving the college and spreading the Gospel. And it’s really fun to do as well.

There is one house who have texted in every single week. In fact, it will be very weird next year when they’ve moved out of uni accommodation and are no longer texting in every week. And they ask fairly awkward questions. But that’s fine. We’re there to answer them as best we can. And in discussing them, I’ve learned quite a lot.

One of the other great things about toasties is the opportunity it gives us to really get to know our college and have really good conversations with them.

After answering the question, we invited them to an event that we’re hosting on Friday. They invited us to their event as well, and for some reason we started talking about wine. I joked that I’d been drinking once a month since Year 8, and since moving to uni had upped that to once a week. Then someone mentioned that that’s a sign of becoming addicted. And then someone mentioned that they might be addicted to toasties.

This made us think: Where would the toastie addiction lead them next? The answer: A whole block of cheese, sandwiched between two loaves of bread. And then somehow put in a toastie machine.

The image of two loaves of bread and a block of cheese reminded me of the image of Jesus feeding the 5000 with not much more. OK, so you’d need to substitute the cheese for a couple of fish. But you get my drift. This, I feel, led into a much better discussion of the Gospel, of Jesus providing for people, of Matthew 4:4 (“Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”).

So that’s the link between the EU referendum, addiction and the feeding of the 5000.

And that’s also probably my last Toasties of the year. There probably will be toasties next week, but I probably won’t be there. So I’ll start writing more about Toasties properly once the Autumn Term starts!