Summary: We can only share when we know the power of the Cross aqnd the Resurrection


Well, here it is “Our part in God’s Mission”! Are you raring to go? And if you are, what will you meet, and how will you react? Well, today I want to tell you two stories: Here’s the first:

Many years ago Jill and I were on holiday in the Lake District. One day we visited Carlisle where we stopped for lunch and went into a park to eat our sandwiches. That park was quite beautiful except for one thing – all the flower beds were ringed round with barbed wire, and had lots of weeds growing In them. “Why?” we asked the park-keeper. “It’s the vandals” he said, “When the park is locked at night they climb over the fence and stomp all over the flowers. The barbed wire keeps them off – but it makes weeding very difficult for our gardeners”. It was so sad, but it did made me think.

God’s Plan for the world has always been very good – His intention was that each of us should grow like beautiful flowers. We would be cared for and loved by those around so that we blossomed and flourished - grew up at peace with ourselves, filled with self-confidence, knowing that we were loved and accepted. As we grew, just as flowers open up in the sunlight, we would we open more and more in the light of His Son, giving joy to those who saw us, and sharing the love that we had received. We would love as we were loved.

But the world being as it is, there are some, perhaps many, who have been hurt in their relationships, let down, uncared for, unloved, and the only way they can cope with life is to put a barbed wire fence around themselves to protect themselves – to keep the vandals out. The trouble is that this barbed wire fence, though it stops them from getting hurt, also stops anyone from getting close to them to love them – and it stops the Gardener from getting in to take the weeds away. They long to be loved – they need to be loved – but they daren’t be open to love, because every time they open up, they get hurt. They are afraid – afraid of people, and their only way of dealing with them is to say, “Keep away, I hurt!” No hugs for them!

There are lots of people outside the Church who find their life is a disappointment,and we will meet them through this call to mission. It’s also likely that we will meet rejection and rejection isn’t easy to take. But let’s get clear what this call is all about – “It’s not primarily to get people to come to Church – it’s for love’s sake, to serve these people, to restore them to faith – faith in themselves that they CAN be loved, and one way or another to introduce them to a God who loves them.

Which leads me on to my second story. Now I have to confess that this story is a rather extreme one, and the circumstances in it are rather extreme. So if you don’t find it all helpful, then can I suggest you just ignore it, and forgive me for bringing it up. But I’m telling it, you see, not for the people who will find this outreach easy, but for the one or two others here this morning who might be having reservations about the whole business of mission. Why?

Because we are followers of Jesus, and Jesus says to His followers: “I want you to LOVE as I have loved YOU. “. Now, how do you react to that kind of statement – it’s my feeling that just a few of us will find it difficult. For just a few of us have our own barbed wire fences to deal with and a call like this can make us feel inadequate. It can even make us afraid. Again, Why? Well look at how Jesus loved - ARMS WIDE OPEN TO TO THE WORLD, TOTALLY VULNERABLE – NO BARBED WIRE FENCE AROUND HIM. And where did it GET Him? To the Cross – they crucified Him. And what if we’ve been so hurt along the line, by difficult relationships – maybe even crucifying relationships - then, even if we’ve been going to Church for years and years, we might still find it very hard to say ‘Yes” and love like Him – and even harder for us to let Him get close ENOUGH to clear up the weeds in our lives, and set us free to step outside the barbed wire fence and really love people. So, you see, the command to go outside these doors and take out the love of Christ can be very scary for just a few.

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