Dear e-News friends, and church partners,
Like many folks right now, I am evaluating many things. I have heard it said several times already:
“I hope things don’t go back to the way they were”.
As tough as this season is, it has produced considerable benefits, and will yet produce a few more.
A few years back, a delightful PhD student turned up at church. He was South African from the eastern cape and from the Xhosa tribe. As it happened, he was also Nelson Mandela’s nephew. He chose to become very involved with the church very quickly and we became friends. I would often ask him when we met, ‘how are you?’, and each time he would reply ‘we are well’. Eventually, I just had to ask him who or what did he mean by ‘we’?
He then explained that within his tribe, they never thought of themselves as individuals, but as a collective whole. So, if he was asked how he was, it was to be taken that I was in fact asking how the whole family and tribe were, and he would reply in return on their behalf.
It is exactly how God would have us think about church and HIS people.
Jesus didn’t come for any individual – He came for a community. One that He loves passionately, and one that He will one day come back for. In fact, it’s the only thing that He is coming back for.
Isolation has without doubt increased a deep sense of value and need for family, friendship, fellowship and community in so many people, both amongst those of faith and those without. We all have the inherent need to belong.
The world and its system is being reset, I think, that whilst God is in no ways behind a deadly virus, I do think He has pressed the re-boot button. The entire planet is feeling the effect. Some will exit the moment just as they went in, but many others will want life to be very different.
I think God wants it to be different. To be different in at least 2 ways.
1. For those who as yet don’t know Him.
I think He would ask them; is the life you’ve got the one you really want?
2. For those who do know Him.
I think He would say, I’m so longing for your company.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are, and were created.”
– Revelation 4:11
Was I really created for God’s pleasure?
For too long, I thought God made it His main business to sort me out. Point out flaws, imperfections and changes yet to be made. I saw him like my schoolteacher’s report, “can do better – must try harder”. So, the idea of spending time with God, was best avoided, or at least kept to a minimum, and even then, a good dose of solid repentance first.
Some theologians have so emphasised the transcendence of God, they have removed all sense of His passion for people, His passion for real relationship or His endearing loving nature. Then others have never really understood the massive power of the gospel, it not only makes me right before God, it makes me permanently right before God, good days or bad. Paul wrote:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God though our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.”
– Romans 5:1-2
This weekend we will get into the next exciting instalment of ‘I Shall Not Want’. I promise you, you won’t want to miss it as we will unpack more fully these thoughts above.
Church is your family, and ‘we are well’.
Church is open, church is online, and we are the church.
For us to continue to be well, we need you to be well too! So, we look forward to being with you at church on Saturday night or Sunday at the following times which can be found here:
- Now over 4,500 hot meals have been distributed.
- Around 40 people joined in a new online Alpha.
- More than 70 people joined in the According to the Pattern course online.
- More than 500 people showed up mid-week for a brand new ‘small group’ experience.
- More than 16,000 people were with us at church last weekend.
- Many more are staying with us for the whole of the church experience.
- More than 850 Indian pastors have been supplied with food.
- More than 20 iPads tablets have been given to a local hospital ICU ward.
- We were able to supply more food bags for more people.
- More hours of counselling time given to those in need.
- More than 100 people turned up for our first ever online healing meeting.
See you at church.
We love you guys,
Andrew & Sue