Reading Dirty Glory from Pete Greig has been both a real challenge and encouragement. This afternoon, the opportunity to walk around Tabernacle Street, Wesley’s House and through to Aldersgate Street came my way. It was great to think and pray….there were no great revelations, no great insights, just gritty prayer and a fresh desire to see the City, Nation and World transformed. Come Lord Jesus!
Follow Jesus into your neighborhood with fellow followers of Jesus. Allow the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ to form your imagination for faithful presence. That means taking your bodies, your location and your community very seriously, as seriously as God in Christ took them. Faithful presence invites you to act on the belief that God is giving you what you need to be formed as disciples within your location.
Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight J. Friesen
In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.
We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.
If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!
Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.
Set the right goals…..and know life.
Yesterday we celebrated the Risen Christ, it was great seeing social media feeds full of talk about Jesus. Today we discover the difference that makes in community, in cities, in the world.As ministers of reconciliation, we are called to bring hope, bring change, to see justice and declare the Christ. Let our words of yesterday stay strong and let’s adorn them with action….we are in a new season that this nation may once again turn to Christ.
After being a little absent on the social networks these last few weeks, it has been interesting to review things that are happening and seeing the responses of people. One of the things that has caught my eye is the amount of vitriol that can come from the keypads of Christians when somebody appears to step on some of their own strongly held doctrinal viewpoints, or another ‘champion of faith’ is brought into question.
It is right that we contend for our faith and that we are careful to guard our doctrine but too often we have allowed ourselves to slip in to a barrage of abusive behaviours to others. Disagreement is a part of life, differences of opinion are to be expected but the line is surely crossed when we begin personal attacks that are, at best, abusive.
“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” is the verse that springs to mind – words that Jesus used as he predicted his betrayal and just before his conversation with Peter regarding Peters own denial of Jesus. In the darkest moments, love one another….it is the thing that marks out God’s people from others. Surely if we are to make an impact for the gospel, we should bear this in mind in the way we communicate with one another….even more so in the public forums that are available to us. Recently, many have gone beyond saying ‘You fool!’ (see Matthew 5:21) and that leads to destruction – let’s be people who are strong, yet loving, courageous, yet gentle and let’s love one another so that we may see many more enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a result of our witness.
Sometimes life sucks, not just a few bad moments but times when numerous bad moments come at once….and keep coming and keep coming, and hope that you have clung to for so long gets dashed again and again. In times like that we Christians can quote all the verses from Scripture, we can give all the life experience stories, share lovely platitudes and share from the ‘giants of faith’ but when life is really low, these things don’t always work. Sometimes you just want the person you are talking to to accept that life sucks and be present with you because meaningless hope is not hope at all and crushes you further. Christians can be a barrier to Jesus.
Thankfully, it is not faith in other believers but faith in Christ that matters. He walks with is, He embraces us and He holds us in the tears and whispers gently, “I will give you rest”. That’s the Saviour that I know and that is why I do not walk away from faith in Christ. I trust Him even in the midst of the storms but sometimes that faith is stretched….thankfully He still holds me and says, “be still, for I am with you.”