Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fire and hail

Reading for this Sunday 19th August can be Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19 (orJeremiah 23:23-29) and Psalm 82 Hebrews 11:29-12:2 Luke 12:49-56


Have we replaced genuine Christianity with pleasant cups of tea

Some passages of scripture don't actually encourage the faint hearted

to take up Christianity

though it is important to note that the readings this week are not so much about how hard it is going to be as attesting to the fact that there is a consequence, and indeed a cost, to identifying yourself as a Christian.

Although some people might think that the Christian Gospel is all fluffy puppy and sweetness and light
Jesus reminds us that this very message
peace, love and forgiveness
is a divisive message.
It will drive a wedge between those who thought they were inseparable
and alienate people from those who they most love.
Contemporary commentators remind us that

the price of true peace
the cost of genuine love
the expression of
genuine compassion and forgiveness
comes with a price.
It is a price that not all are prepared to pay
and indeed we seek to avoid.

Running the race
I am not a runner! Never have been,
but the image that the the writer of the letter to the Hebrews uses
captures something of this idea
of the effort that needs to be put into of faith.

This is a sort of dynamic contradiction
about faith.
Although we do not have to do good to curry God's favour
we have to believe in Jesus
Yet this believing has to be done right
There is a sense in which we have made for ourselves
a caricature of faith.
We have replaced genuine costly faith, the sort that invites you to carry a cross
with pathetic and polite expressions of belief which lack any real focus or cutting edge.
Have we, as I say, replaced the Cross with cups of tea?
There are many fine example of people who have chosen to live sacrificial lives
in the name of faith
and because they seek to follow Jesus.
We can name Maximilian Kolbe, one of the many martyrs of Auschwitz,m
William Wilberforce who lead the battle against slavery in England,
Florence Nightingale, Francis of Assissi, and of course many more
This 'great cloud of witnesses' attests to faith with a cost.
Can you think of those who you regard as most faithful,
what is the cost to them of being a faithful Christian?

Jesus himself, the writer tells us

is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that
was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his
seat at the right hand of the throne of God

His pioneering example was that faith has a cost.
Have you and I lost that,
or replaced it with a cup of tea and a biscuit?


  • Ask the Spirit to show you where you have become apathetic and lustreless
  • Invite the Spirit to show you a way that is more costly, more challenging, where you can respond more fervently, more faithfully to Jesus.
  • Pray for the courage to do it.

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