Voice of the Church December 2020
“God rest you merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay.” Christmas is going to be rather different this year, it seems. As
Voice of the Churches Leader for November from Chris Dunton of the STURMINSTER CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
What is your life? We have the good fortune to live halfway up one of Dorset’s lime-stone ridges. From there we can look out over the Blackmore Vale towards Shaftesbury. At this time of year, until the Autumn ‘weather’ arrives, the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ can be a special time of early morning beauty in which we can thank our Lord for the wonders of His creation. The Apostle James has mist in mind, but a different intent, when he asks his rhetorical question: ‘What is your life?’ He goes on to observe ‘You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes’ (James 4 v14).
How many times have we heard similar observations about life’s brevity and death’s certainty made during funeral services – hopefully with judgement’s certainty and faith’s opportunity emphasised also? We live in a society that is fascinated by good health and good diet – probably because it has no answer to the problem of death and dying. Our society values wealth and celebrity and is increasingly unequal leaving many either ‘left out’ or left feeling worthless. One of the positive outcomes of this pandemic is the number of people who, forced into a situation in which they realise either their loved one’s or their own frailty, have found themselves asking James’ question – ‘What is your life?’. Unless someone has the good fortune to have a Christian friend then our predominantly secular culture will be offering all these people some pretty dumb answers to a very real question.
Our Bibles are full of good news for all those wanting an answer to James’ question or who just feel ‘left out’. Our Bibles tell all and sundry that men and women are the pinnacle of God’s creation. God has made mankind in His image and we are precious in His sight, possessing a dignity beyond that of angels. Yet human lives are spoiled by a sinful nature which is why people feel as they do. This explains why people treat others badly and find themselves treated badly by others. But the good news is the same God who made us has also done something for us through Jesus Christ and has sent this Jesus to put the ‘broken pieces’ back together again.
Now many people really do try to make things better. They may distance themselves from situations they know to be harmful. They can try to get back on terms with those whom they have hurt or who might have hurt them. This will help, but what they really need to do is look up! They may have no idea how to get in touch with God – they might have tried to get in touch before but without anything happening – but there is no need to worry about that because God has already solved their problem. He has reached down to them through Jesus. Jesus comes to seek people out. He does this through His people – His church. Jesus has already born the punishment they deserve and ‘wiped the slate clean’, erasing their guilt and offering total forgiveness. Jesus is able to give them a new family (His church) and a new future (an eternal future) – in short, a new life!
What we can offer people outside the Christian community of saints and what we should already have for ourselves, is this very precious ‘new life’. What is your life? Yes! Without doubt it is passing – but our lives have been purchased by Jesus Christ. Our new lives are forever changed by the indwelling Holy Spirit (our guarantee of belonging) who makes our lives powerful for Christ. A life lived for good is a life lived for the glory of God. We have one life: soon it will be over: but what we do when we reach out for Jesus – indeed everything we do for Jesus – will last.
A full Pdf of this address can be found by clicking here