Monthly message


 October 2019

Do you ever think, ‘Nobody cares any more. Nobody bothers.’ When I lived in Malvern I would drive past a roundabout, where a sign said, ‘SIN. The only place to be.’ SIN was a nightclub. But doesn’t that sum up our culture?

I saw a poster that said:

‘I fully realise that I have not succeeded in answering your questions. Indeed I feel I have not answered any of them completely. The answers I have found only were to raise a whole new set of questions, which only lead to more questions, some of which we weren’t even aware were questions.’

In some ways we are as confused as ever; but confused on a higher level, with more education, about more stuff. But just knowing stuff is not important. We all know brainy people with no common sense. I know a lot about God, the Bible. But the stuff I know doesn’t do any good if it doesn’t help me through.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy is looking at the stars. She says, ‘The poets say that the answers to life are in the stars.’ The next two panels show Lucy still looking at the stars. In the last panel, Lucy walks away saying, ‘The poets are stupid.’

One oddity about this culture, is the effort it puts into hiding everything, pretending it’s fine. A programme about alcoholism said most of the problem this country has with drinking is through people who drink in secret. They hide it, pretend everything is wonderful. But inside they hurt.

The bible says Christians are sanctified. That means holy, set apart or different. It means, if we’re joined to Jesus, God makes us more like Jesus, in a culture that says that’s stupid, that says you’ve got to hide the fact you’re hurting. Our culture says don’t be more like Jesus - instead, be more like a movie star, pop star, tycoon, athlete, someone successful.

No book in the New Testament is less disputed than 1st Peter. Many early church fathers say it is an authentic letter from the apostle Peter. And Peter knew what he was talking about. Peter wrote to Christian exiles, all over the place. Amongst other things, he says this:

‘You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’

See that: ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.’ So this book is written for new Christians. It is written to all of us who were lost but are now God’s people. Made new.

A little girl asked her grandfather, ‘Grandpa, God made you, didn’t he?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘God made me.’ The little girl said, ‘God made me too, didn’t he?’ ‘Yes,’ grandpa said, ‘God made you too.’ The little girl looked in the mirror, at herself, and at the wrinkles, lines and baldness of her grandpa. ‘You know, Grandpa,’ she said, ‘God’s doing better work lately.’

God makes new creations. 1st Peter is written to new creations, all who want to respond to Jesus. They were confused like we are, discouraged like we can be. They were persecuted, because of their faith. And when it hurt, they said: ‘I thought I was going to be happy and peaceful all the time, wealthy. Everything was going to go right.’ That wasn’t happening.

Have you ever felt like that? Maybe our culture isn’t what you thought it should be. Maybe God seems to have gone away. Maybe you’re afraid to follow Jesus because of what it will cost. Maybe your children, your friends, ask questions you can’t answer. Maybe you’re tired. This letter was written for you, as encouragement. It’s what all Christians are called to do - encourage each other. Yes, Peter writes about bad news, that would get worse before it got better. But the good news is that, in the midst of the mud, God grows flowers. That’s the message of 1 Peter.

So, take heart. Peter knew the sweat and toil of following Jesus, but decided it was worth while. We all get fed up, depressed, wondering why we bother, but take heart. God makes people into new creations. He encourages and guides. No matter how much mud, the only place to be is with Jesus. He understands. He died for you. He’s the only person worth following.

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