Thursday, 12 January 2012

You've Got Three Wishes...Go

The offer has been made. The terms are simple. The Genie is waiting. Ask what you will.
1Cor. 4:21a What do you wish?
Money? Health? Happiness? Certainly these were the respective wishes of Japanese, European and American parents for their childrenaccording to a recent survey. But I have an advantage over my Japanese, European and American survey respondents. They only gotone wish. I've got three! I could trump them all and wish for all three of their wishes! But should I?

Wishes reveal hearts. Is my heart driven by money, good health, or the pursuit of happiness? Perhaps. But if it isn't, why should I wish for it? If I could, I'd somehow wish for super-time. But the Genie's already explained the preclusive terms. I must confess though, that when I consider what to wish for, I keep coming back to what I want now. After all, I want my wishes to be relevant.

Who would make irrelevant wishes? When it comes to all things beneficial, and therefore helpful, relevance should certainly be presumed. This is especially true when it comes to wishes. But it's also true when it comes to any claim of helpfulness such as churches which claim to help make life better. Any church daring to make such a bold and public claim would first have to be relevant to its claimants. 

Some churches attempt to be relevant by changing their message and the way its delivered and packaged. But this tends to make them irrelevant. Other churches feel their traditions and formal structures and proceedings are the things that make them relevant to a spiritually hungry world. The spiritually hungry hungry don't seem to agree.

Reading the opening chapters of The Book of Revelation where The Risen-Crucified-Voice speaks to the seven churches clustered in Turkey, we should be jolted to read of His Majesty telling all but one of these churches that they were irrelevant! Not irrelevant to themselves. Not irrelevant to their communities. Irrelevant to Jesus.

How might a church that despises irrelevancy (and seeks to be relevant to its own community, relevant to its city, and relevant to its Christ) demonstrate that it really can help to make life better? This is not an original question. Earlier this week someone who saw our current TV ad asked someone in our church how we could possibly make such a claim? Perhaps in their mind, churches should not advertise because churches have nothing relevant to advertise. But we actually have nearly 200 ways to answer this question. These are the stories of people who can share how a small seemingly insignificant church in Bridgenorth Road has helped. Heart-broken people have been comforted. Guilty people have found forgiveness. Despised people have been accepted. Confused people have found direction. Sick people have been healed. Despairing people have received hope. Yes, this church on the edge of the Tasmanian Bush can substantiate their advertised claim to: help make life better.

A young man wondered though. He was 'forced' to accompany his parents to church. "Irrelevant!" his body muttered. But then he witnessed his parents marriage very nearly disintegrate. Confused, despairing, fearful, he did not know what he could do to help his parents. What happened next changed his life. It was something the boring and irrelevant preacher said during one his boring and irrelevant sermons in his boring and irrelevant church that totally rescued his parents' marriage. The young man was forced to reconsider how he understood "relevant" and "irrelevant." That same young man grew up to become a preacher!

Each week I have people contact me who want help making their lives better. Some of these people turn up on a Sunday and discover that what they previously thought was irrelevant is now very relevant. From the acceptance shown by those who greet them to the love they experience from those worshiping around them to the strange sense of the transcendent as the music begins to the inner whisper of the Spirit of God they hear as the preacher speaks. Relevant and helpful.

But you must be wondering what my three wishes were? For those who criticise those of us who wish with the Pharisaical charge that wishingis unspiritual it might be worth taking a little time to do some of our own rebuking. I rest my case with the Original Genius-
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
You don't need an Arabian Genie to offer you 3 wishes when you have a Genuis-Saviour who invites you wishcontinually. Not only do we worship a Saviour-Genuis (the French word for "genuis" is 'Genie' by the way) Who invites us to wish, He Himself wishes. (You can read of the record of His biggest wish in Second Peter 3:9.) So what were my three wishes?
Father, help us to be fresh for You. Fresh in Your Word. Fresh in Your Spirit through prayer. Fresh in Your love through fellowship. Prepare us for eternity with You by helping us to be the kind of people You want us to be. May we wish what You wish. Cause us to give our all for The Christ and His Cause. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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