Do you know what a paradigm is? That’s para-dime not para-dig-em. A rather pedantic way to spell the word, but I think it is meant to make you stop and puzzle over what it is before you use it.
It’s not a thing, it is a concept, and concepts need to have been explained to you, ideally with an example.
So what is it then? It is nothing less than a way of making sense of what we see. The Daily Mail inhabits a paradigm. It sees the world in a certain way, and chooses articles that reinforce that paradigm, and puts a spin on stories that, again, reinforces how the editor sees things. And how the readers expect to have their prejudices reinforced. It is how every paper works – I am not picking the Daily Mail especially, though it is topical in that Tony Blair mentioned, in his evidence to the Levenson enquiry, how it waged constant war on him.
The church does that too. For less people than it used to, but no doubt for many who are not so close to it anymore, they expect it still to be a paradigm holder, even if they don’t want to buy into it. It shapes or filters how we interpret the things around us, and make sense of them.
However, since the time of Constantine, it has shared its paradigm with the State – since about 400AD. At least in the west. Not so in China, where the western influence was kicked out of the church by the state!
Here’s the rub. The church’s job is to witness to the paradigm of Jesus, exclusively. I am the way the truth and the life. Not to its own version, but point to how Jesus sees things.
Is it doing a good job? Are we doing a good job? It is our job, so we can’t duck this question.
How do we know? Well, there is only one way. Fruit. Can people see Jesus when they see us?
If not, or if only by moving their head left or right to the right place, then there is some clutter, some dead branches to be removed. We must be ready to do that. And be prepared to look at ourselves in this way.
(Can you tell I have been to a Conference? Very good one too! Overall message – Ensure Jesus is the Centre.)