Summary: A look at the centrality of Jesus to everything and an encouragement to keep on discovering him.

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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.

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