Among the reports and blogs about the Baptist Assembly and the theme of shining like stars I wonder what God might be saying to BUGB. What follows isn’t so much a blog as a mini sermon; not one I can imagine ever been asked to preach at a Baptist event though……
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” John 12:24-25
At a troubling point in our denominational history, it is easy to look for voices of salvation and a quick fix to get us going again. We’ve just appointed a new General Secretary, we’ve embarked on a restructuring programme so we’re good to go. But wait, is this what the Spirit is saying or what we would like to hear? Maybe there is a deeper challenge for us to grapple with.
A willingness to see the things we count as Baptist life fall to the ground and die. Those elements of life together which give us identity and security, the ways of being Baptist which we take pride in and which give us a sense of purpose; are we willing to lay them down and see them die?
The temptation to carry on with business as usual is great. The attraction of activity, the pull of the familiar and lure of success; all make us want to move on and get going. However, it is a temptation we must not fall for, because first we must be prepared to die.
Like a seed falling to the ground death will give rise to new life. The loss of what we once held dear will give way to flourishing new lives, a plentiful harvest of new congregations.
How can we navigate this hour? As a denomination we need a fresh commitment to following Jesus, to serving him. Being the people who do what Jesus would do and who pray the things Jesus would pray. For it is as we love Christ, follow him and seek to lift him up, that the Spirit will be manifest in our life together.
As the people of God our security is not in processes or familiar ways of working. It is not in heritage or reputation; it is in our inclusion through Christ. Our future is not a place (whether a good place or not) it is in a relationship. And everything else we must be prepared to lay down so that the character of God can be revealed afresh.