November 2016

December 5, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

What is faith? According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is ‘Complete trust or confidence in someone or something’ or a ‘Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof’. The writer of Hebrews says ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’ and then goes on to list many examples that you can read in chapter 11. We, as a Christian Church, are a faith community. The Greek word used in the Bible translated into English as ‘faith is ‘pistus’. It is a strong word, a dynamic word. It carries with it not simply a belief in something but also means ‘“firm persuasion producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth,” “a personal surrender to Him,” and “conduct inspired by such surrender.” ( Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words , 1985, “Faith”). For a Christian faith is not simply believing but living as if it were true.

As Christians we are one of the three theistic faiths as we share the same roots and belief in God as Judaism and Islam. However we are distinct and different in that we alone are the one true faith worshipping a living Messiah, Jesus Christ. We have something that no other faith or religion has, namely direct, ritual-free, access to our God at any moment, in any place for any reason. We who know the truth have the responsibility for telling others about the truth. As the letter of Romans says in chapter 10 ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

In a recent survey 84% of Christians said they had come to faith by the age of 21. Where does that leave churches with few or no children? More hearteningly the vast majority of Christians first went to church (or Alpha course etc) because a Christian invited them to do so, and for many people going to church is the first step towards becoming a Christian. Personal evangelism is still the most effective, assuming that the church clearly and honestly presents the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need for discipleship. That is good news. But of course many of us are nervous about inviting people, about knowing what to say, or talking about Jesus. Yet we must do it because it is a task Jesus gave us all to do.

Talking about Jesus is no more difficult than talking about your recent holiday, your day trip to a stately home, your grandchild and so on. Anything that is important to us we talk about and Jesus is more important to us than anything or anyone else. Just like our friends do not want to see 2564 near identical slides of our trip to the Peruvian Andes or 127 of our new grandson but are very happy to see a dozen or so they do not want, or need, to know everything about our faith or Jesus in one go. A little taster will suffice, but it has to be the most important things. So to help do this I suggest you take three postcards, on the first write down why you go to church, or the second write down who Jesus is and on the third write what Jesus means to you. Only write on one side of the card. Now you have an answer to three basic questions non-believers may ask.