Admiration & Transformation.

Admiration & Transformation.
We must then offer no resistance. He never wanted us to imitate the wicked. Rather, he challenged us to lead everyone away from shamefulness and pleasure in evil by patience and kindness. We can in fact show that many who were once among you have been transformed in this way. They gave up their violent and domineering ways. Either they were conquered by the sight of their neighbors’ patient life, or they were convinced by noticing the extraordinary kindness and patience of some defrauded traveling companions, or they were overcome by encountering and testing this attitude in people with whom they had business dealings. Anyone who is not found living in accordance with his teachings should not be regarded as a Christian even if he confesses to Christ’s teaching with his lips. For he said that only those shall be saved who do not just talk, but who also do the corresponding works.
Justin First Apology 150ad / To Emporer Antoninus Pious.

You have to admire those early Christians.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a 1st Century Christian.

I want to be a 21st Century Christian.

I’m not too bothered about revisiting ancient Middle Eastern customs & practices.

I live in the UK in a modern society.

But you have to admire those early Christians.

 

I’m glad I don’t have to believe the things they mistakenly took for granted.

(I sense I am a little more enlightened than them – though I could be wrong.)

The search for the mysteries of God through the sciences means we understand so much more now about the vastness

of space,

of time

of the earth

and of ourselves.

We are discovering His handiwork in places where the ancients couldn’t imagine.

God is truly great.

 

I’m glad I live now – in the 21st Century.

But you have to admire those early christians.

 

I don’t want a return of their lifestyle.

They would run,

hide,

meet in secret,

talk in whispers,

baptise hurriedly,

preach fearfully.

 

I don’t want any of that.

But you have to admire them.

You should admire them.

 

When they decided to follow Jesus – it meant a great deal.

It cost them everything.

For far too many it cost them their lives.

For those who kept their life, they willingly gave up their way of life – in order to truly follow.

 

They believed they were part of a new Kingdom.

A Kingdom with different values than the physical one that ruled over them.

They lived out these values.

So as they hid, they stuck out like a sore thumb.

They couldn’t help it.

They were different,

peculiar,

unnerving,

yet somehow strangely attractive.

They expected their fellow followers to join them in living a new life.

They expected their way of life to invade society

Slowly challenging and changing people as it grew.

Like yeast.

Like branches of a tree.

 

In short – they believed in transformation.

Of people and of places.

 

It didn’t quite happen as they thought it would.

But you’ve got to admire those early Christians.

They started something.

We can help it along to its finish.

 

I believe in transformation.

Of people and of places.

Perhaps you do too.

 

They had something we need.

Not those old naive beliefs,

tired rituals

and localised practices.

(We’re far too intelligent and developed for that – though I could be wrong))

Rather their overriding trust in their King, Jesus.

Their tireless efforts to help Him bring His Kingdom to Earth – like it was in heaven.

 

Oh they believed in transformation.

They lived out transformation.

 

Now they form a great cloud of witnesses

who watch

and cheer

as we do our part. (at least that’s how I like to imagine it).

 

And so we at this church pause for LENT.

And we learn together again what it means to follow.

And we help each other stir up the goodness & the gospel that God placed in us.

 

And after pausing we will return.

Wiser than we were before.

Wiser,

stronger,

fitter for service.

 

And many things must change.

I hope we’ll be ready.

We have to be ready.

We’ll be ready.

 

Because we believe in transformation

And it starts with us.

Author Description

revster

Russ leads New Life Scunthorpe. He is married to Sarah and they have two amazing boys Jordan and Joseph. Russ is committed to raising leaders who raise leaders. He believes that church should transform people and transform places and so he urges followers of Christ to turn up the contrast and believe in a Big God, build Big People & belong to a Big Church.

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