Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
The Christian Life is very much a ‘mission trip’. From the very beginning, we are sent out into the world.
John 20 verse 21 - Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” It is Resurrection evening – they and we are given our mission instructions, for life in this world.
At a time of outrage how can we offer the best we have to give? We have a counter culture mission – we have a mission from God – a mission that is different from the world.
We are called to tell the truth and love the people. Sometimes we have to go into uncomfortable situations and into strange cultures.
Isaiah knew this truth 600 years before Jesus came into the world – “Here am I Lord, send me”. Isaiah was sent on this mission for God.
There is outrage and division and brokenness and anger and frustration and racism and sickness – social and financial and moral. Our response is to go on this mission – we do not just have a mission in life – but God’s mission gets a hold of our life.
Christians live and look differently - the worse things become the more attractive we should become. Turn to Philippians Chapter 2 .
Philippians 2verses 14,15 – “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
We are called to live and look differently from other people in the world – and that is not easy – living a radically different life is challenging.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Philippians 2verse 14 Our response should be without grumbling or arguing.
So, dear Paul goes on to say – ‘work it all out’. God works in you and God has a desire to accomplish something worthwhile through your life – and with no complaining or arguing and no saying – “O Lord Jesus, why is all this happening to poor old me?”
His goal for us is that we might become blameless and pure – without a fault – like ‘see through saints’ – he is repeating himself – 1verse 10 – pure.
You see a garment in a shop, and you ask it you can take it outside to see its real colours. Show me your real colours! Blameless – that we have not fallen morally or stumbled, and that we have not caused someone else to fall or stumble. I wonder why he repeats himself?
And - we are to shine, by holding out the word of life. There is such an emphasis to these believers upon attitude and outlook and having the mind of Christ. The way we look at things is important – but see what he is getting at – see his aim and goal and purpose – that we may be blameless and pure and shining more and more like Jesus.
We hear a lot about four letter words these days – well, there are three important ones in these verses – obey and work and fear .
The word ‘complaining’ is the same word which the children of Israel used as they murmured against Moses’ leadership and thereby against the living God. That cost that generation the Promised Land, and they had to wander around for forty years.
( Numbers 14: verses 36 to 38 .)
Do people really know the cost to themselves of murmuring and complaining?
Pure and blameless – this word ‘ pure’ also means unmixed – innocent – unalloyed – not an alloy. One could almost use the word sincere which means without wax – a significant word – no wax in the cracks of the marble pillar – you could not tell if it was solid marble until there was real pressure on the pillar.
When you try to build on a life where there in insincerity, the life and what you try to build collapses. Jesus speaks about this – build on the rock – be founded on rock and not on sand.
This is where we can be healed and repaired and strengthened from these defects – and made new creations. God continues to create and in Christ we are made new creations – 2Corinthians 5 verse 17 .
Verse 13 – There are so many thoughts in these verses. God wants to work in us and through us. God wants to co-operate with us and to accomplish good works through us as we reach out to the needy and the lost and those living in darkness.
Remember their address – “a crooked and depraved generation”. That is where we are to shine.
What a thought – to be called to co-operate with God – or to be called and to discover that He is willing to co-operate with us.
Paul is sharing deep truths with the disciples of Jesus Christ in Philippi and he has been giving them some very practical advice. He wants to encourage them further.
When the world hits people – people try to respond by hitting back.
Our response is to stand out – Philippians 2verses 14,15 - “So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”
Jesus shows a different way to live – Jesus shows a better way to live.
Romans 12verse 2 - The Message – “Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
The culture always seeks to drag you down – our response - our calling – our commissioning is to be HOLDING firmly to the word of life – holding firmly – hold on firmly. Philippians 2verse 15 - “As you hold firmly to the word of life.”
We are not going to get along with everybody – we belong to a different King – and we seek to reflect a different culture with different values.
Philippians 1verse 27 - “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Spiritual maturity is not measured by what we know – we are called to live a life that is different – our lives are transformed – because Christ is within us.
We are on a counter culture mission. It has always been like this – and we are called to be gracious in an age of rage – when the culture is violently rebellious.
Live as ambassadors for Christ - 2Corinthians 5 verse 20 - “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’”
This is not our home. We live and share and show the love of Jesus.
Ambassadors have a difficult life in many places around the world – in lands where Christians are persecuted – and where those who serve in the name of Jesus are seriously challenged too.
Ambassadors of Christ serve a different KING – JESUS.
“Gracious Father, when the world resists Jesus and rejects Jesus – help us to show and share the love of Jesus – we do not follow the gods of the age – but we need Your help to follow Jesus Christ – lovingly – humbly – faithfully. This is our mission – help us to fulfil the task You have assigned – in Jesus Name.” Amen.
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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