Hi everyone, it’s Mick here; with my wife Tricia we have the privilege of leading STC Sheffield. This is Vision Week at STC. A week when we, as a church family look towards the Vision Jesus has given to us for 2020. This year, 2019 our vision was to ask others to ‘Join Us and Grow’ – and we have indeed seen our church family Grow in all kinds of ways this year. In 2020 our vision is to ask others to ‘Join Us for the Better Life’.
If you are part of the church family at STC please do take time to watch the Vision 2020 videos, and read the Vision 2020 booklet – as individuals, families and in your midweek communities. Next Sunday, 10th November is Vision Sunday when as a church family we ask Jesus to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us as Vision 2020 is released. Let’s fill the church at our three Gatherings next week, release the vision and meet with Jesus!
September we have been hearing again the story of the birth and growth of the early church as told in Acts – thank you to our staff team for your amazing reflections! This Vision Week we take a slight detour as our Monday to Friday Bible reflections will focus on ‘The Better Life’.
As I write this Podcast, the General Election has been announced – Thursday 12th December – a perfect run in to Christmas! We will hear politicians of all persuasion over these next weeks convincing us that their policies, their political ideology, their ‘way’ is the one which will give us ‘the better life’. Most people usually equate this ‘better life’ to greater prosperity – in other words ‘better’ means ‘more’ which usually equals money! But what if this ‘better life’ was more than prosperity and money? What if the ‘better life’ was more about a fully lived life in body, mind and spirit? Everything that makes me, me in harmony, at peace.
It’s not wrong to want more out of life; to live a happy, healthy, joyful, good & abundant life. Jesus speaks constantly about this better life in the gospels and goes on to explain how we receive it into our lives. On this Monday of our Vision Week we go back to Jesus’ words in the Great Sermon he preached on a hillside 2000 years ago – the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 6:30-34 MSG
“… What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. …”
Jesus’ words are amazing, they are full of ‘invitation and challenge’ – here are my words of life, now put them into practice! Jesus’ words to us are so clear, but the standards he sets seem impossibly high! However, the Bible reminds us time and time again that nothing is too hard for Jesus; by all means plan ahead, but never worry ahead! Faith is always the antidote to worry. As the amazing missionary Corrie ten Boom said: ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.’
We spend so much time worrying about things don’t we? Our families, our finances, our health, our futures. It’s hard not to worry, it’s part of our human condition. So can you live Jesus’ ‘better life’ and still experience worry? I have been a Christian many years and I still have times when I worry, when I experience anxiety – usually about family or health, but strangely, rarely about money! Over many years of following Jesus I have come to this conclusion; the answer to worry is consistently living a lifestyle of faith – a lifestyle whose building blocks are prayer, the Bible, worship, community, living out the ‘better life’ of Jesus every day through simple acts of kindness, generosity, encouragement and hospitality. This enables us to trust God in all things, trust that he hears our prayers and trust that he will act.
What amazing promises Jesus makes to you and me; he says that as we commit to him and follow him daily we will never ‘miss out’ on anything; indeed we get everything, the whole Godly package – the full and better life. As the years go by Tricia and I are more convinced than ever that Jesus Christ IS the better life!
Lord Jesus, as we focus on you and the Better Life you offer, encourage and challenge us this Vision Week that we may ‘love you more dearly and follow you more nearly’. Amen