New Year Message

I’ve written a short New Year message for our church e-newsletter, and I thought it worth sharing here too.

Are you planning on making a New Year’s resolution?  Many will, and such resolutions are all about wanting to change some aspect of our life or behaviour.  And it often feels like we go round the same cycle again and again, making the same resolutions to change and then breaking them, leading us to wonder if we can ever change.

My holiday reading this Christmas is “You can change” by Tim Chester, which comes out of his own struggle to deal with certain sins in his life.  He sets out a message of hope in Jesus, for forgiveness and lasting change.  I haven’t read it all yet, but in the first chapter he focusses on 2 Corinthians 3:13-18, with its image of Moses radiating the glory of God after he met him on Mount Sinai.  We were made to reflect God’s glory, as people made in his image, but that image has been damaged by sin.  In Jesus, God revealed his glory, and the more we focus on the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus, the more we will reflect that glory as we were designed to do.

He goes on to speak of how real change only comes about as our hearts are changed by encounter with the living God.  Unless and until this happens all our resolutions, however sincerely made, are bound to fail.  God desires our transformation, until we eventually become like Jesus, and we are called daily to turn to him afresh in repentance and faith to allow him to complete his work in us.

So whatever other resolutions we make this New Year, let us each resolve to make 2016 a year where we seek to spend more time in the presence of Jesus, experiencing his glory, and so enable God to make us ever more like him and display that glory to the world.  In other words, let us know Jesus and make him known.

I hope to write more on the Tim Chester book once I’ve worked through it.

Who is supporting who?

Reading Stuart Murray’s Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a strange new world, for my next assignment, and came across an interesting idea I hadn’t explicitly thought about before, though in practice I think I probably instinctively follow it.

He suggests that one issue with the church is that, even if we’ve rejected the idea of “clergy” and “laity” we’ve too often slipped into a model where the majority of the people are there to support the minority – the leaders – in doing Christian work.

He suggests that the Biblical model is the precise opposite, citing Ephesians 4:11-12, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service…”

So it is “the people” who are to live and work for Christ’s praise and glory, and those in positions of leadership and responsibility in the church are there simply to equip them to do so.  What a difference it could make to our witness if we could really understand this!