Our minister’s message September 2017
It’s one of those questions used for an ‘icebreaker’ to help strangers feel at ease with one another at a conference or youth weekend: ‘If your house was on fire and you could rescue only one possession, what would it be?’ The question makes us consider what is important to us and to re-assess our priorities. Often, the item people tend to select is something with sentimental, rather than intrinsic, value. There are those moments in life when we come to realise that the important things in life are not those we spend so much time pursuing and acquiring.
As I prepare to move home for the seventeenth time in my adult life, the importance of this becomes even more clear to me. I’ve always been something of a ‘hoarder’, hanging on to things because they are familiar and, after all, you never know when that particular item will come in handy. My wife’s wise advice is, that if you haven’t used it for a year or two, you’re not likely to – so it has to go! Once again, an opportunity presents itself to consider and then choose what is important.
There are many key passages of Scripture found especially in the words of Christ, and in the writings of Paul as he reflects on them, that are given to us to enable us to see what is truly important and to promote those gifts and qualities to pre-eminence in our lives. As Christian disciples, it is our privilege and our calling to resist the temptation and avoid the trap of doing the opposite; indeed, Jesus warns of this very danger in Matthew 23. The Pharisees, who believed they were properly ‘religious’, were exposed as being, at best, misguided and mistaken and, at worst, calculatingly self-interested. They had clung to the form of their faith but did not practice its core values or humble devotion to the things of God.
It is a very human trait not to prioritise and practise a lifestyle modelled on the selflessness of Jesus and instead to ring-fence our own world with all its comforts and unchallenged opinions, but it is one we must surely fight. We know we shall never achieve this perfectly this side of heaven, but being a Christian means giving it all we’ve got as we try.
In all the wonderful ministries and activities that constitute Bailgate Methodist Church’s programme, we must never forget that a church is its people. Our choices, our discipleship, our priorities, our faith – these are the things that define us and identify us as belonging to our Saviour. This is the path called ‘holiness’. It is the path Jesus walked perfectly, it is life’s highest calling, and it is the path we follow, however imperfectly.
As we begin a new Methodist year, with all the changes it will see, the one thing that is firmly within our sphere of influence is to be the very best we can be in walking that path. I believe with all my heart that, if we each commit ourselves to this, the future of our church will be a revelation.
May our Lord bless you richly.