Pastor’s Pen 26th April 2020

Shalom. Let our pressures and stresses rest in the hands of a loving God as we relax in his presence.

Well, we are heading into level 3 next week! Yay, sort of… this will not practicably change anything from the way we’ve been ‘gathering’ and keeping in contact. So, we still won’t get to see each other in the flesh on a Sunday, and you get the chance to see if my video skills are getting better (I’m not going to aim for a TV show at all). As we continue to head down the levels we will be able to look at ways we can begin to expand our bubbles and hopefully encourage mini gatherings in peoples homes (sounds very Acts of the Apostles based), but not yet.

So for now we keep washing our hands and maintaining social distance while staying in our bubbles being bubbly (unless I forget to wipe down the bench after myself, not sure what your challenges are 🙂 ).

Rebecca and I have been walking down to Wharekaho / Simpsons beach with Lochy several times a week, and have enjoyed the walk. It’s still quicker getting there than back, but the steps are less of a challenge than they were a few weeks ago!

I want to encourage you to use this time to continue to grow in your relationship with God. Keep reading his word and asking Wairua Tapu to help you understand it. There are heaps of resources on line to gain a deeper insight, but I have found the You bible application and Bible gateway good places to start. Be careful about accepting anything and everything you read on line. If you want to delve deeper in his word using these platforms, then some good research helps. Not every website tells the same story and some tell one I may not agree with. Please feel free to contact me, or your home group leader if you’d like help and direction.

An amazing aspect of our faith is it’s uniqueness at being able to free individuals from bondage, transform their personal world and also be able to radically reform whole societies.

We see that Jesus focused firstly on individuals, and any historian or anthropologist will tell you that to transform a society you need to start a movement that changes how people think, and often this is done through fear and intimidation. Recent examples are communism, fascism, socialism and capitalism.

Yes, capitalism is one that still operates by fear. We are afraid we won’t have enough money, or be able to achieve or have what we want. These fears are becoming apparent now as a result of the economic consequences of our lockdown. New Zealand isn’t a pure capitalist society, and in the midst of our current situation we should all be thankful for that. But we are incredibly secular and have an underlying belief in our individual self sufficiency and rationality. We don’t need God because we can sort it out for ourselves.

Christianity often flourishes in the adversity of the first three, but can be watered down in the latter. Christianity is not a faith that is based on fear (awe and respect towards God yes but not fear). As followers of Christ Jesus we have a responsibility to help transform the world we live in, so that it better reflects kingdom values. Most of Western civilization has these values as its basis and rewards people for hard work and encourages people to give their best in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ and to be the best they can be. The challenge is we have allowed greed and selfishness to become more prominent and the rich get richer and forget the poor.

This is not God’s heartbeat and we need to get our balance better. This is best done as each of us grapple with God’s call, seek his heart, read His word and work together to be a community that seeks to take the change we have discovered to a wider world. I think in our current environment, the need for us to address wealth inequality is very evident and the need to consider our economic models are very apt. But that’s a whole new discussion.

I hope you have a great week and find God pulling you into a deeper embrace.

Pastor Mike