There are many things that need to come together if you want to be a great sportsperson or explorer. You need the right physique for their sphere; the chances that a shortish, skinny guy like me will ever be an international star in a rugby scrum are fairly remote! You need the right skill-set and knowledge. But having the right physique, skill-set and knowledge is not enough, you need to have the right mind-set too. This covers a whole lot of aspects such as commitment, determination, a positive outlook and the ability to keep going in face of setbacks and criticism.
Listening to interviews with those who succeed in this area, there is often talk of visualization. This is often to do with picturing in your imagination your succeeding; crossing the finishing line, lifting the trophy or reaching the pole or mountain top. It’s amazing how this simple sounding tool can make a difference. I know that when I’m out running, picturing myself making a good time or getting to the end, can help keep the pace up and manage when I’m flagging.
As Christians, this is something that we’re called to do as well. We’re called to live our lives like athletes determined to live it as well as we can for God. Paul calls us in 1 Cor. 9:24 to, ‘…Run in such a way as to get the prize.’ The writer to the Hebrews encourages us that we can do this as Jesus has gone before us and shown it can be done, ‘…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…’ Hebrews 12:1-2.
We were thinking about this at the mid-week Bible Study this week, considering what it means to live a life of faith. One of the questions challenged us to consider how much of the way we live is determined by the culture of those around us and how much is shaped by our understanding of what God has promised in the Bible. The morning sermon series at the moment is looking at the unfolding story of The Father’s Heart for creation and his promise to put right that which has been spoilt. The Bible tells us that we have a secure position before God through Jesus. We have been adopted as his children and eternal life, our citizenship in his Kingdom, is certain. I wonder, what difference would it make if we were to visualize this destiny on our lives in the here and now as we live out this life for him?
Church Newsletter, 05.05.13
Typing this I can hear the sound of one of our members attacking our church notice board. We’re in the process of obtaining brand new ones, but until that is sorted I have screwed on a makeshift one so that people can keep in touch with some of the things we’re planning. Judging by the sounds, maybe I killed the screws in doing so…
Communication is important to an organisation like ours. Like it or not, how the church building looks and what is displayed on it, gives an impression of who we are and what we’re like. A clean tidy church sends out a certain set of signals. A church with out of date posters and weeds around the fencing says something completely different.
Of course there are many ways of communicating who we are and what we’re about. That’s why we have a web page, put items in the school newsletter, send out texts, post updates on Facebook, print out invitations for events we’re putting on and so on.
Last Sunday evening we started our new series looking through the Letter to the Hebrews. It starts off with the line, ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…’ We stopped and though of the plethora of ways in which God communicated with the people of the Old Testament: through the splendour of creation, speaking animals, dramatic dreams, prophets’ dramas, rainbows and tablets of stone to name but a few. He is clearly a creative God who loves to interact with people. All of these methods were good, but the most significant is that of his Son. Through sending his Son, God gave us a first hand experience of his personality and character. Nothing beats actually meeting someone to find out who they are.
And so it is with the church today. I want us to be creative in our means of communication with our local community, just as God is creative in communicating to us. But as important as this is, these things are secondary. The most significant way people can learn about us is through meeting us, interacting with us, and getting to know us. Who we are is who the church is. This of course raises another set of questions. Are we proactive in getting to know people outside the church? Do our lives reflect what we say we believe? Are we the same person on Monday that we are on Sunday? We are the church – not some institution on the corner of the High Road and Slipe Lane. How we are with others is how people see the church, and to a degree, God himself.