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Pastor’s message: September 2020

Dear Friends,

September normally heralds the return to routine after the disruption of the summer holidays, but what will it hold this year? It is five months since Lockdown began and we are now beginning to wrestle with the challenges of its easing and release. That is not simple, therefore we need to pray for our leaders as they try to steer a clear path through events beyond their control. As Christian citizens we will do all that we can to obey our leaders, both within the church and the nation, but how are we to conduct ourselves in such an uncertain world?

Colossians 4:5 directs us to “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time”, while in Philippians 1:27 we are told “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…”

Both of these verses show the importance of the everyday life of the individual Christian. We are to be living testimonies of how Christ changes the life of a Christian. In his sermons on Ephesians 5 Dr Lloyd-Jones states “This is how Christians testify to the truth of the Gospel. The idea that Christians testify by getting up and speaking in a meeting is not found much in the New Testament, if at all. The testimony was borne in their ordinary lives.” (Ephesians 5; p. 227)

As with all stress situations we are hearing voices raised with people giving their opinions. This then often leads to other people being condemned, but is this the way that we as Christians should respond? None of us is completely happy with the limitations under which we still have to live and that leads to frustration, but the two verses quoted above give us wise and appropriate counsel. Paul wrote “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” in prison.

There were so called Christians who were using this as an opportunity to push their own positions in life. Others were letting personal disagreements fester on, but in this advice Paul is effectively posing the question “Does your life show an appropriate reflection of the Christian message?” After listening to you or reading something that you have written do people say “I want to know more about this Christian message” or do they turn away saying “If that is Christianity I want nothing to do with it”? You might justify yourself arguing, “Well that’s what I believe, it’s up to them how they respond!” But look at the verse from Colossians – “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time”. Paul is referring to those who are outside of the faith, “without God and without hope in the world.” Unconverted, they need to understand that Jesus came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Christians believe that those who have not put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him to forgive their sins will spend eternity under the righteous judgement of God. Are we doing all we can to point people to our Saviour, and showing them that while it might seem that the world is out of control that in fact God is still in control? This pandemic has not happened beyond God’s control, but has been allowed for His glory and the good of His people. As Christians we are to be wise in our words, our attitudes and our actions. Opinions on the source of covid-19 vary. More research needs to be done, so we gain nothing arguing about “foolish, ignorant controversies, because … they breed quarrels” (2 Tim 2:23), but we are to take this time as an opportunity for Christian witness.

Paul continues his advice saying, “ … the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,” (vv, 24,25). So as we face the trials of moving to the ‘new normal’ let us do all that we can to be kind, teachable, patient and gentle.

As Christians we are in a unique position to show a frightened world that God is still on the throne and He will lead us through this. Let us live by Faith in Christ, not in fear of the ideas on other people.

Grateful for His Sovereign Care,

Bernard Lewis

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