Dear brothers and sisters,
The New Year has seen big changes in the way we do things at South Wishaw. When I was asked to become the Minister here I was assured that the church was ready for change. As we all know the church is not the building (which itself had gone through major change before I arrived) but the people. But saying you are ready and actually being ready are, as we have all found out, two different things! And that is because we can imagine the change in our heads but the experience of it is felt in our hearts. And that is why we must feel the need to change in our hearts before we make the change itself. At least that is the theory! Let’s be honest though, when we are so comfortable with our lot it is often difficult for us to get worked up about the plight of others. We even turn the TV over when we see an appeal for financial support following some disaster or other. This may be because we feel we are doing our bit and do not wish to be made to feel guilty by advertisers. More likely it is because we don’t want to see these images while we sit in the comfort of our homes enjoying a meal or whatever. But remember the old adage: ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ The reason these adverts are necessary is because without them we would do even less, not more!
However we don’t have to watch TV to see the need of others – it’s right in front of us as we walk or drive around our communities. People of all ages are struggling with mental health problems, substance misuse and drug or alcohol dependency, dreadful loneliness or facing a housing crisis – which, if we have noticed, doesn’t appear to have touched our hearts enough to make the changes that are needed in the way we do church to offer what help we can. That help should come from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who by the power of His Spirit can transform lives – or don’t we believe that? And if we don’t believe it – what do we believe? Indeed, what is the point of our faith if it doesn’t break our hearts to see the need of others around us? And that need is not just physical or material, it is spiritual! The society in which we now live has roundly rejected God – but that doesn’t make them right in their assertion that he is no longer relevant. They would be right, however, to assert that the church is no longer relevant in our society unless the church mobilizes itself.
And that means becoming relevant to the people of this day and age and using the building as a resource to serve the community and to build the kingdom – which itself is the people of God not a place or a structure! Recently my heart has been breaking to see so many lost people around our town and to feel we are not doing enough about it. The changes that have been made to modernize our morning worship are just the start of changing the way we think about things in order that we become relevant once more. That’s the only way people will let us, and God, into their lives. I hope you feel the need to change for their sake too.
Your brother in Christ,
’Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ (Romans 12:1-2)