Sunday, 20 September 2015

A privilege and a Responsibility

As a minister I have a tremendous opportunity and privilege to speak prophetically into our nations situations, but I also carry a responsibility to ensure that I offer balance and not bias, of course I have opinions, but I have no right to use my position to force my opinions upon others. I cannot assume that my views are the right views, even though they are what I hold, and so need to challenge people to think, and those who are Christians, to seek God on each issue and make, hopefully, informed understandings.

Coupled with that comes the responsibility for speaking into the life of those who are a part of the church I have been called to minister within. Challenging attitudes and life choices that as church we see as incompatible with our faith stance and ultimately with scripture and of course there will be bias, my understanding of scripture, but still I must wrestle with the fact that among Christians there are differing views. Alongside that comes the privilege of encouraging, discipling and growing those who want to grow in their journey with Christ.

Let me give some examples of this related to Christians:

Opportunity's would include speaking out on the current refugee situation in Europe and encouraging looking at the range of responses and attitudes and asking what would God want of us in this? They would also include supporting efforts to deal with homelessness and helping those with a lack of food, through our local food bank.

Responsibility weights heavy, when dealing with issues like sexual morality, not engaging in sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage and not engaging in adultery some of which cause much debate and divided opinion . But other issues also have to be dealt with such as how we treat or regard others, how we handle money and giving, to name a few.

But the other side is working with folks who grow in faith, seeing them blossom and find their way, strengthened by God. Being privileged to help them seek more of God, find out about their gifts and directions and seeing them working for God's glory. It includes the privilege of walking with others in their difficult situations offering comfort, support and care.

I know also that  I could not do what God has called me to without the wisdom, strength, love and power that he gives me through his Holy Spirit and the gift I cherish the most, is his grace, the knowledge that he will love me no matter what.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

I must become less ...

Achievement, being recognised, being famous, being someone who is noticed and acclaimed are goals that many today aim at. Whatever our profession, walk in life or vocation, it is all too easy to seek recognition and acclaim. Most professions have annual awards given to those who have achieved or contributed in a big or useful way. Most notable are the awards in the film and theatre professions. These goals can become traps that hold us as we seek them and yet feel we have not made it, driving us harder and more urgently and for some pushing them over the edge.

Many achieve amazing things in this life but will never be noticed, will never have a wikipedia entry about them, never receive an award or public acclaim, and actually that is no bad thing. Sometimes, possibly more often than we might like to admit, seeking acclaim can take over. I am reminded of Sheldon in "The Big Bang Theory" and his obsession with a Nobel prize for science. Then of course there is the argument among Jesus' disciples about who would be the greatest and who could sit with Jesus in heaven.

In the Christian world the same forces are in play, famous names attract big audiences and book sales, well known musicians get good media sales. Of course it should  all be about serving Jesus but fame and success can throw even the best off course.

Am I being a little cynical? No just questioning. Recently I was reading John the Baptists' reply when questioned about him and Jesus. "I must become less" or "slip into the sidelines" was John's response. For him it was not about glory or honour or fame. It was about doing well what he was called to do and then fading as Jesus' ministry flourished. His reward would be an eternal one.

The real joy and fulfilment comes, at least for me, in knowing that I have done the best I can for my saviour. Serving him is a joy and a wonder which no fame or acclaim can ever equal or come close to. I am sure the same is true for many, I hope it is so for you. Fame and fortune are fierce-some task masters, but Jesus' tells us to take up his yolk, which is light and easy to carry. In our ordinary everyday lives, the light of Christ will shine through, great things will be achieved. I salute the many who will never seek to be noticed and never will be and yet will do great things for God, the glory will be Christ's - we must be less and Christ must become greater.