October 2014

January 23, 2015

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

When we celebrated our 157th Birthday we were reminded of the original covenant signed by those who formed Rubery Congregational Church. In it it stated the purpose of the church to be ‘to promote each other’s spiritual wellbeing’. We no longer ask members to sign this Covenant but it is worth asking the question, do we promote each other’s spiritual wellbeing or not? Are we honouring our forefathers and being faithful to their vision of church or not?

On that same 157th Birthday Celebration we read from Deuteronomy Chapter 8. It is the message from God to the people of Israel before they entered the promised land. It begins ‘Obey faithfully all the laws that I have given you today so that you may live, increase in population and occupy the land which the Lord promised to your ancestors’ (Deut 8 v 1). After reminding them of the hardships and the blessings of the wilderness years he says ‘Remember that the Lord your God corrects and punishes you just as a father disciplines his children. So then, do as the Lord has commanded you: live according to His laws and obey Him.’ (Deut 8 vv 5,6). God then tells of the wonderful land they are to inherit before saying ‘Make certain that you do not forget the Lord your God; do not fail to obey any of His laws’ (Deut 8 v 11) God then reminds the people that in a land of plenty it will easy to forget him finishing with ‘If you do not obey the Lord, then you will be destroyed’ (Deut 8 v 20). Read the whole chapter yourself it is fascinating and challenging.

The law that is referred to is the Ten Commandments, still the basis of orthodox Christianity today, which, in short form are:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honour your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
10. You shall not covet.
In the light of our original covenant each of us has to ask the question ‘am I helping my fellow church members to keep these laws thereby aiding their spiritual progress?’ If not what are we going to do about it? Have we the courage to really be a church and not just a group of friends?

Of course it does not stop there. In the light of Deuteronomy 8 v 20 quoted above we have to ask ‘Is church decline inevitable or is it a result of God’s punishment?’ I guess that, like me, you find it uncomfortable to put it like that. However we cannot ignore the fact that the fastest declining denominations in Britain are those where liberal theology is the order of the day whilst the growing churches have a traditional Biblical, some would say narrow, theology.