Last time I wrote I was incredibly excited about the reality of the amazingly awesome God we have; there is so much more still to discover. Unfortunately, some of you – my closest friends – seem to disagree just which bits are God and which bits are not. So please, let go of your own bias and focus on the common ground. We all believe in one God, one hope, one astounding love. I beg of you, treat each other with respect.
To those that play instruments, stop criticising the preacher. To those who preach, stop criticising the congregation. To those that spend time serving when nobody sees what you do, stop grumbling about the lack of appreciation. To those that serve youth, stop moaning about tradition. To those who have been around and invested heavily in your community, embrace change but do so by adding in the wisdom of your experiences. In everything you do, act out of love for the other – as though you are for them, with them, not against them – and you will see amazing things happen. Together we are stronger, so don’t let disunity break us apart.
In your day to day living, remember your personal mission statement. Why do you do what you do? Every decision you make should be ethical, moral and consider other people. Our mission is not selfish, it is selfless. Let go of the commercial world around you, ignore the adverts and think about what you actually have. I know I am surrounded by things ‘to do one day’, and know I am guilty of adding to that pile. How much simpler would life be if there was no ‘to do’, just ‘it is done’?
What a contrast in attitude when we gather together! I was at an MTV concert last night, where alcohol flowed freely, bottles were thrown and the language was interesting to say the least. Mere months before at Big Church Day Out, I experienced unity, celebration, dancing with equal numbers of people but without fear. I was with family. Remember, there is no need to be angry with each other, no need to speak accusations. Instead, focus on the good, be kind to one another, forgive. Let’s face it, we’ve been forgiven more than we could ever forgive! Let’s not add to the problem, but be the solution; meet a need, not make one.
The difference between MTV and BCDO was clear – at both events people were drunk, but only at one was it on the Holy Spirit. Filled with that sort of unifying power, it feels natural to respond by singing, serving justly and making melody in our hearts and lives by the choices we make.
Living out love should be what we are known for , evidence that we are what we believe. In our relationships, showing respect and recognising our roles, building each other up and supporting each other to become better. How much stronger should this be when we commit to each other in marriage? And how much more important when we are responsible for bringing up children? What we really believe is reflected in the way we treat those closest to us, so let’s not mess it up.
If only it was that easy.
It is too easy to do the wrong thing, even with the best intentions. It’s as though there is a force at work against us, tempting us to make bad decisions while thinking they’re the right thing. And, yep, there is! Not only are we fighting against our own selfishness, but we’re fighting against institutionalisation, against well meaning but mistaken leaders, and against spiritual evil that is beyond what we understand. So how can we possibly stand against everything that seems to be against us.
God is for us, not against us. He has already won. He stands with us.
- Hold onto the truth as though it were superglued to your heart
- Let what you say be what you do – live selflessly when you can afford to
- And when you can’t, enjoy the peace that comes from rest (short for restoration), knowing you’re doing your best
- If anyone criticises you unjustly, raise a forcefield and let it bounce off you (note – criticism may leave dents, even when it bounces off, so try to forget and let it go)
Most of all, remember that God is for you, not against you. He has already won. He stands with you.
- Accept God’s love for you
- Let the Holy Spirit fill you
- Don’t let prayer become a formality, instead let it be a constant conversation between friends
- Keep your eyes open for friends who are struggling; support them
You know what, if nothing else, be an encouragement; be a positive influence on those around you. Enjoy and embrace the freedom that comes from seeing people fulfil their potential with a smile on their face.
I’m really looking forward to seeing you again. In the meantime, may you know the peace that comes from trusting in God, as His love surrounds you with gentle strength, and may your hearts hold strong to the truth and reality of our amazing God.
Yours in love,