Pastor’s Pen 31st March 2019

Shalom. May God help you grow in your knowledge and love of Jesus.
In light of the recent Christchurch tragedy I’ve been pleased to see how we have responded as a nation and as a body of churches. I appreciated our governments response and have been impresses with our PM Jacinda Ardern, excepting the Muslim call to prayer broadcast over our airwaves.
I have reservations regarding the wisdom of this, let alone the spiritual implications for a secular parliament so quick to embrace one faith as it seeks to eject another.
This has caused me to hope that we are able to better express our faith with regards to others. This isn’t saying that we consider them all equal, but that we are able to understand and respect the differences and agree that nobody is better than anyone else simply because of their belief.
I was thinking that often a blindspot with churches is we seem to disagree so much and so often we focus on the areas we differ on, and not celebrate the things we have in common. In this regard Christchurch has prompted a more or less unified response and I think this is fantastic.
It is my belief that our Christian life is primarily one of relationship and journey as we follow Christ Jesus and engage in the things He has for us. This needs to happen on individual, congregational and even national levels.
It is important to have good companions on the journey; they ‘spur us on to love and good deeds’. This is true for us as individuals when we mix in small groups and as congregations, but others should never have to wear the burden of carrying us to and across the finish line. Jesus doesn’t expect any of us to be completely responsible for each others faith and hold us accountable for their growth or lack of. It is true we have a part to play, some of us a greater part and I include myself in that. The sad thing is often we narrow our perception of how to live this life of following Christ and brand all who differ as wrong or in error. It is undoubtedly true that some are, and God will sort them out, but often they aren’t wrong, just different.
The challenge is how we handle diversity when it sits next to us in the form of a person; or a church down the road; after all Jesus said:
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples–when they see the love you have for each other.” (Joh 13:34-35)
It’s easy to love someone who is just like us, but harder if they aren’t. This love needs to extend beyond us as individuals and as a church see us reaching out and loving the wider church that makes up the church of Whitianga.
As the church we need to be engaging with our community where they are and expect less for them to come to us than we go to them.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike