Summary: A look at the centrality of Jesus to everything and an encouragement to keep on discovering him.
Do you ever ask yourself the question “what on earth am I doing?” Like the man who spent all his money on a sleek new Mercedes roadster and was out on the motorway for an evening cruise. The top was down, the breeze was blowing through his hair and he decided to open her up. As wnet past 90mph, he suddenly saw a flashing blue light behind him. ’There’s no way they can catch me,’ he thought to himself and opened her up further. When he hit 130, with the lights still behind him ’What on earth am I doing?’ and pulled over. The policeman came up to him, took his licence and examined it. ’Listen mate,’ said the policeman. ’I’ve had a tough shift and this is my last pull over. I don’t feel like more paperwork so if you can give me an excuse for your driving that I haven’t heard before you can go! ’Last week my wife ran off with a policeman,’ the man said, ’and I was afraid you were trying to give her back!’ ’Have a nice night’, said the officer.
Call it a midlife crisis (I was 40 yesterday!) but I find myself asking questions like this sometimes: “What on earth is church about?” What are we trying to do, how are we doing it? Last Sunday was my 14th anniversary here – I am by some distance, the longest serving minister in this church’s history – like Tony Blair, I can no longer blame what went before! I want my forties to be more productive than my thirties, I want to serve the church better, see it grow more, make a bigger impact in the community. Over the next few weeks I want us to look at what church is all about, how that what we are doing together here is important, see how it relates to our lives and those around us, what we should be getting out of it and giving to it.
1. The centrality of Jesus
I said last week that one of the things we need to do is to so immerse ourselves in the story of the bible, especially the story of Jesus that we finish the story he began in a way that fits and accords with what we find there. Any discussion of what we are all about, what we think we are playing at in church and as Christians must centre around one person – Jesus of Nazareth. Colossians 1 tells us that he is the centre of all things. I have spent all of my 40 years in the Elim Pentecostal Church (some of you can beat that easily ) 18 of them as an Elim minister: I have been disappointed Christians, frustrated with the church, my denomination, my colleagues. But Jesus remains as the figure who constantly amazes, challenges, inspires and baffles me. I’ve said before if you ever get frustrated as a Christian just look to Jesus. In my years growing up in the church what I recall is a great emphasis on the Old Testament. Why we majored so much on the Old Testament I don’t know. When I got to Theological college I realized that my knowledge and understanding of the epistles was deficient and I set about putting that right. But in recent years I have had a growing interest in the Gospels, in Jesus himself. The OT may prepare the way and prefigure jesus, but it is the OLD Testament and we need to be careful how we use it. The epistles are about the church reflecting on Jesus led by his Spirit seeks to put his mandate into practice. But the Gospels are critical, for that is where we disciver jesus, we learn about him, we get to understand him, aided by the Spirit.
It is my conviction that the church needs to get back to Jesus, to open our hearts and minds to what the bible tells us about him, to let go of our preconceptions, the things we have accepted and try and let the bible teach us afresh about this unique person. I want this place to be a place where Jesus is central to all we say and do. So often people in rejecting Christianity are not rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting the church. The challenge for the church & our lives is to keep Jesus central – not meetings, programmes, theological agendas – but the person of Jesus. He after all is the head of the church, eh holds all things together. It’s all about jesus as Colossians 1 reminds us.
2. Discovering Jesus
Keeping Jesus central involves a voyage of discovery, we need to continue further along our journey of discovery. That means I want this church to be a place where we can think, talk and encourage one another in our discovery of Jesus. I said last week that the more I understand about Jesus the more I realize I don’t understand! We all have ideas about Jesus, but as I mature (sounds better than grow older!) I find that there is more than I first realized about jesus. We need to keep on rediscovering Jesus – what does this mean? So many people have different views of Jesus Brian Mclaren in his book “Generous orthodoxy” has a helpful little summary of different views of Jesus. Some you may recognise, others not.