Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Church - dull or dazzling?

This last weekend I flew to Copenhagen to be with David Bjerre and the church family at CCC (Copenhagen Community Church). I have to confess to being something of a people watcher when traveling - well it passes the time when you’re hanging around at airports waiting for a flight. All those focussed individuals weaving their way through the crowds, following their own schedule, (I wonder what that is?) getting to the next place in their journey in life, (I wonder where he’s heading?) criss crossing the concourse with multitudes of others, each on their own personal journey. It got me thinking about the course of our lives, the way that as God has had led us individually through many years of twists & turns, how he drew us to himself, redeemed & cleaned us, and in particular, the way he is sovereignly weave our lives intricately together to form the church. The church is no random mass of people; it is much more than that!

At CCC Sunday morning I was amazed to discover that were 12 different nationalities present - I know because Finn Allan who was leading the meeting asked, and then we prayed for all those nations! Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God declared that he would gather together his people, the church, in a spectacular way: ‘I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of ruby, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones.’ Isaiah 54v11f.

Do you get the picture? This is not a brick building where all the bricks are identical - quite the opposite! There is to be a dazzling array of different colours, sparkling gems, and each one set in place with great care - and not just merged into a general mix. Antimony was a substance used for eye shadow, and as I understand it, eye shadow is used to make each eye stand out or sparkle. So God’s plan is not just that we get joined together, but that the more different backgrounds and nations are present in a local church, the more spectacular & beautiful it becomes!

“Church” means ‘gathered ones’, and I am convinced that Jesus takes great pleasure in local churches that welcome the stranger, that embrace people from different nations, and find grace to set their own preferences aside so as to become something far more attractive and unique: One new mankind in Christ! Well done CCC!

(You can now follow Goff on Twitter)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Taste & see...

Jesus is the bread of life – I was preaching on this tasty theme on Sunday and I haven’t been able to get this image out of my mind! It is so graphic and mouth watering. You just have to think of fresh bread, straight out of the oven, still warm, and immediately your senses are working…. the smell…. the feel… the taste… absolutely irresistible! And here’s the bonus – it’s nourishing and good for you (well, for most people fortunate enough to be able to enjoy it).

Isn’t that such a great illustration of what Jesus wants to be to us – the bread of life? Doesn’t that give us such a helpful picture of what it means to live as a Christian – to hurry into his presence eagerly each day like a hungry person rushing to the bakers, and to enjoy him and take him into our lives for the day ahead? There’s no empty ritual here, instead there’s a motivation of delight, anticipating something (or someone) very tasty!

John Piper goes as far as to say that in fact the very reason God gave us an appetite for bread was so that we could get some idea of what Jesus wants to be to us. I quote him:
‘One of the reasons God created bread—or created the grain and the water and yeast and fire and human intelligence to make it, and I mean the really good kind, that’s not mainly air—is so that when Jesus Christ came into the world, he would be able to use the enjoyment of bread and the nourishment of bread as an illustration of what it means to believe on him and be satisfied with him. I believe that with all my heart. Bread exists to help us know what it is like to be satisfied in Jesus.’

O taste and see that the Lord is good!