13th June – 2nd mark of mission – to teach, nurture and baptise
2 Corinthians 5: 6-17
Today I am going to talk a little about the passage from Corinthians and how that might help us to think about the 2nd mark of mission – To teach, baptise and nurture new believers.
Tom Wright says this about the passage; The theme of our reading from 2 Corinthians is Paul defending his ministry, which the church in Corinth challenged. Paul does not care what they think; he and they must be judged before the messiah himself. Paul is saying he is who he is because he has been formed by the messiah’s love, a love shown by Jesus’ death, evoking in Paul a response of self-giving love.
Therefore, Paul talks about walking by faith and knowing the fear of the Lord. I can empathise with Paul, there have been many people over the years who question my ministry because they would rather I did so and so, and my argument is like Pauls; I know I can’t please everybody, so I chose early on in my ministry to try to please God instead, and to work with him in his mission.
And we, as baptised Christians, are all called to be workers alongside God in his mission, so how do we best do that?
There are 3 things from this passage that I want to bring to your attention , because I think they are helpful in knowing what to teach new believers.
The first thing is Knowing the fear of the Lord, from verse 11. But first we need to explore a little what knowing the fear of the Lord means…has anyone got any ideas?? >>>>
It is not the same as being frightened, some translations use the word respect, someone else says; Fear of God refers to fear or a specific sense of respect, awe, and submission to a deity. In proverbs 9 :10 says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and I like this quote from William D. Eisenhower who wrote in his article ‘Fearing God” in Christianity Today this:
Unfortunately, many of us presume that the world is the ultimate threat and that God’s function is to offset it. How different this is from the biblical position that God is far scarier than the world …. When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for in truth, the world’s threats are temporary.
When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce him to the world’s equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.
Which brings me nicely to the second quote from verse 7; We walk by faith not sight. well, this is one of those sayings that can trip easily of the tongue but is not so easy to do.
The reason being is how do we walk by faith? This is not simple to answer and so knowing that there is wisdom in the counsel of many, I wonder if you can help me explain this????
In a way this walking by faith not sight is a continuation of fearing the Lord, because to fear the Lord, to respect him and his ways, we need to seek him, listen to his voice and the inner prompting of his Holy Spirit.
And we need to be prepared to both trust him and to get it wrong sometimes.
We learn with practice. That is why being part of a small group is so important because we get to practice in small ways.
The third thing I want to talk about is timing because this too is connected to walking by faith and fearing the Lord. God’s timing is perfect – ours is not. Sometimes God tells us something and it is for the future, sometimes he is gracious enough to share that with us but many times it is something we find out for ourselves. It teaches us about patience, keeps us humble, and trusting that what he has said will come to pass.
I will give you an example. When I was a curate I was fortunate to be able to work in an area called the Hythe where a church had been closed for 25 years. There was a regeneration project going on by the council and I was able to work with them and others in trying to bring life and faith to this area. Well, we did a lot of things and the next step as far as I could see was to put a small group in the area to meet to pray, worship and serve the community.
I thought I knew who God was calling to this and approached this couple who had a couple of children, the wife has musical abilities the husband could lead a group and was an artist, perfect I thought, so I asked them, and they said no.
A year after I left, I was told by a member of the congregation in the main church, that it was a shame because after I had gone, they got funding for a church army worker for 5 years, they said to me it would have been good for me to be involved. I asked them who was part of the team, and you guessed it the couple I had asked previously were heavily involved.
There are 2 lessons to be learnt here, 1] God’s timing not ours is right.
2] 1 Corinthians 3 verse 6 says, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
We are all workers in God’s mission, we all have a part to play.
I believe in discipleship, so much so that I have spent a lot of time thinking how we do it well but coming to the conclusion that each of us can only ever really disciple a few people at a time, because to disciple someone means spending time with them, sharing our lives with them, just as Jesus did with his first disciples.
We are all at different places on our journey of faith, but everyone of us can help teach and nurture new believers. And as I believe that we all should be lifelong learners, we can all learn something form one another. That is why it is so important for us to work on our relationship with God and share what we know to be true for us with others along the way.
It does not take a diploma or degree in theology to share the gospel with others, it takes authenticity to help guide someone in God’s ways.
As the incumbent here part of my ministry is to hold the vision and to encourage others to seek God, find their gifts and calling, and enable them to take up their place in working alongside God’s mission. >>>
Time is short, there is a sense of urgency, there are so many people suffering and dying without the knowledge that can not only save them but give them abundant life. How can we keep what we know to ourselves when so much is at stake?
In September and October we are going to run a course called everybody welcome, please join us if you can because I think it will help equip us all to help teach, baptise and nurture new believers.
Let us pray…..
God of grace and growth,
you have called us to plant the seeds of your kingdom
in the fields of your world,
and to trust you for their developing and flourishing –
and so we praise you.
For the abundance of your creativity:
we praise you.
For the transforming nature of your Spirit:
we praise you.
For the power of small beginnings:
we praise you.
For the mystery of hidden growth:
we praise you.
And for the harvest we are invited to delight in:
we praise you.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.