Rev'd Charles - September 2017

posted 1 Oct 2017, 07:25 by Richard Jones   [ updated 1 Oct 2017, 07:25 ]

View From the Vicarage

‘Do something religious!’ 

 Perhaps you know the story told by Bob Hope, the American comedian. He’s on a plane when it’s struck by lightning. The passengers begin to panic and one turns to him and says, ‘Do something religious!’  ‘So I did’, he said, ‘I took a collection!’ Why? Because our churches often appear to be only concerned with money even though Jesus himself said, “Our Father in heaven will give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11) and Paul was confident that “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). 

 So while recognising that the ordained ministry has to be paid for, and places of worship provided for, it could be that many churches have lost sight of what they are called to be and to do (Mark 11:15-18). After all, Jesus’ final command to those who believed in him was simply to “Go to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:16-20). 

 But what are the distinctive characteristics of a disciple of Christ? The answer to that can be found in Acts Chapter 2 verses 37-47 where we read that they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”  In other words, they believed the Good News about Jesus. They turned away from their sins (repented), committed themselves to Christ (were baptised) and received God’s gift, the Holy Spirit. So there was Bible teaching and Bible reading (John 8:31), sacrificial Christ-like concern for one another, worship (Hebrews 10:23-25) and prayer (Acts 1:14). These are what distinguished those first Christians and “every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved”. 

 So was Bob Hope right? For a Christian the answer is surely ‘no’, because all Christian giving is first and foremost a response to God’s incredible gift of himself to us (2 Corinthians 8:5 John 3:16) for at it’s heart Christianity is neither a ritual nor a religion. Rather it is a relationship in which by grace (Ephesians 2:8) we become God’s children (Romans 8:14-17) and God becomes our Father (Matthew 6:9). Therefore, when our priorities are right, God’s provision will follow. 

  So – do something religious? No. Instead, says Jesus, we are to “believe in the one whom God has sent” (John 6:28-29).