Stepping outside

Taken from the intimation sheet: 15 June 2014

Philippians 2:4-11

4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!  9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Did you watch the opening ceremony of this year’s World Cup? I’m still not sure what to make of it. 60,000 people gathered in the Arena de Sao Paulo in Brazil, while an estimated one billion people watched the show on television. For an hour the stadium was filled with a carnival of colour, smiles and song. The event was billed as a celebration of Brazilian nature, diversity and – of course – football. All very well, but when we returned later to the ITV studio we were given a glimpse at another drama which had been unfolding outside the stadium. Hundreds of protesters had gathered, stones and fireworks had been thrown, water cannons fired and even the windows in the studio hit with pellets.

The protesters were complaining that an extraordinary amount of time, effort and money (9 million dollars on the opening ceremony alone) has been used to welcome the world cup, whilst many Brazilians continue to live in abject poverty and need.

It struck me as a picture of the church. There’s no shame in giving a lot of time and energy to what we do inside the church walls. There’s no shame in recharging our spiritual batteries in an environment that soothes the soul. But where the life of the church becomes totally disconnected from the need and suffering which surrounds us, we have a problem.

The Lord Jesus left the unimaginable glories of heaven, to be born as a baby in Bethlehem. He subjected himself to the very world he had created. He served and loved even when it was costly to do so. He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. For us.

‘Let this mind be in you’ says Paul.

We cannot hide away from the need which surrounds us if the mind of Jesus is within us. We will be compelled to leave our safe and comfortable world to make a difference, to meet a need, even when it’s costly to do so.

I hope we invest a lot of ourselves in our church services and meetings, I hope they are filled with smiles and songs. But I also hope and pray that we would always be mindful of the terrible need which surrounds us. I hope and pray that we would be willing to go out and get our hands dirty to see others come to know the life they are offered in Christ.

Yours in His service