As I sit here trying to compose my sermon for this coming Sunday, thoughts of the world around me flood my mind. The unity across denominations that I witnessed at Swanwick this week, despite differences, stands in stark contrast to the posturing and disunity that we see in the world around us, especially in the Brexit negotiations. Added to this is the news of storm disasters around the world, the near starvation of 5 million children in Yemen caused by another needless war, the infighting of the government and the anti -semitism of the opposition… the list could go on. This all signals the fact that we live in a broken world. Politicians do not have the answers – most of them seem motivated by self-interest. There is only one answer to the brokenness of this world and that is Jesus. He is the one who was broken on behalf of the world to bring healing to the nations.
One day he will return and fix this world but in the meantime, he commissions us to be agents of his wholeness and salvation. We may not be able to fix the world but we can, through Jesus, administer to others the healing that Jesus has given to us.
God bless, Richard
Last night I watched The Viceroy’s House – a film that came out last year (the 70th anniversary of
Indian independence). It presents a picture of Earl Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of India leading up to independence and
partition caught in the crossfire of vested interest. On the one hand was the British Government seeking to secure access to
Middles Eastern oil; on another side was Jinnah, determined to set up an independent Muslim state (Pakistan); then there was Nehru who wanted India to stay together under the Congress Party (largely Hindu); finally there was Ghandi who was only really
interested in an independent India. Mountbatten is depicted trying to manage all of these interests whilst, at the same time,
being stitched up by all parties. The result was the biggest mass migration in known history (14 million people displaced from their homes and over 1 million killed as a result of the fighting between Muslims and Hindus that proceeded from the tearing up of the country).
Vested interest often doesn’t see the bigger picture. The pursuit of our own personal goals at the expense of all else will always produce unwanted consequences. In the kingdom of God, there is no room for vested interest – it will only produce division. This kingdom is one in which our interests are subsumed in the pursuit of God’s; where our will aligns with his will and where we set our objectives on a higher calling – to see his kingdom come and his will done on earth as it is in heaven. That comes about through unity of purpose and commitment to His cause. It involves denial of our own self-will. It involves seeing the bigger picture – that we are part of an everlasting movement that will result in seeing Jesus crowned as king of a united universe under his headship (Ephesians 1:10). Let us set our hearts on his purposes and not just our own.
This week I filled up my car with the wrong kind of fuel. Not only did I feel like an idiot but it proved to be quite a costly mistake. Hopefully, there is no long term damage to the car. As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the encouragements of scripture concerning what we put into ourselves. These things will have a good or bad effect, depending on what they are. Jesus declared all foods ‘clean’ (Mark 7:19), however, if we put too much of the wrong sort of food in our body it will have bad consequences for our health and wellbeing. In the same way, what we put into our minds will determine what sort of person we are. In this same passage, Jesus declared, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.” In other words, that which makes us clean or unclean is that which is in our heart and mind. In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” In this, he is lining up with Jesus. If we fill our mind with rubbish, then rubbish is what will come out of us (garbage in, garbage out). But if we fill our minds with the right sort of fuel, we will be blessed and will be a blessing to others.
God bless, Richard
This year the teaching series is focusing on Jesus the Messiah. He is, of course, the focus of our faith. In coming to earth and laying aside his majesty, he achieved what could be achieved no other way: reconciliation between us and God; between the creation and the creator; between heaven and earth. He is the bridge (or to use the Biblical word, Media-tor) between the Father and Humanity. He is the one who came to make a way where there was no way so that all of creation could come back into Divine order – back under the authority of the King of Kings. The more we understand the person and mis-sion of Jesus, the greater is our sense of thankfulness and worship, and the bigger the need to tell others so that they too can come into this same relationship with the creator and sustainer of all things.
The world is generally oblivious of its need of God. Obsessed with the material reali-ties of life, and putting all thoughts of eternity to one side, people go about their daily lives not realising what they are missing out on, and also the peril they are in. It may be a trite thing to say but Jesus really is the answer (now what is the question?). This month, remember you have the answer to the world’s problems and in you is the hope of eternity.
Spring brings with it the promise of new life. That which was dead in the ground suddenly bursts fourth in fragrance and colour and warms the hearts of all those who look on. This is nature’s way of mirroring the Resurrection and the empty tomb. But it is also a reminder to us of the promise that is given to us of new life which begins with us coming to faith and will be complete in our resurrection. And yet there is something for each one of us to do now in terms of activating that promise within us now. Paul says, ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul is not passive in terms of activating the power of the resurrection in his life. He takes deliberately action to lay aside his past and to ‘strain’ towards the goal. God has not called us to be apathetic Christians. We are called to take hold of our destiny and press on to-wards the goal that God has given to each of us. This Spring, lay aside all of the encumbrances of the past – all that weighs you down and stops your progress in the faith – and be determined to ‘take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold’ of you. God Bless. Richard.