Live by the Spirit.

Live by the Spirit.

There are a number of different pictures used in the New Testament to help the emerging church of the first century get a handle on what it meant to follow Christ. The ‘Body of Christ’ in 1 Corinthians 12, ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5. ‘Armour of God’ in Ephesians as well as instructions to ‘encourage one another’ and have ‘generous hearts’.

They were working it out as the Spirit of God revealed to them who they were, what to believe and how to conduct themselves. The majority of 1st Century followers were Jewish. They worshiped at the Temple of Jerusalem, and attended the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Yet, one defining constituent of this Jewish sect was that Christ was for all people. Jew, Gentile, Greek, men, women and children, free and slave. As challenging as it was, all were invited to come to Christ. They were learning together who could belong, what to believe and how to behave and it was so counter-cultural that it both appalled and appealed, even Roman rulers. Nero tried to obliterate the Christians and later Constantine became a Christian.

Today of course, we continue to work out what it means to be a follower of Christ in our own time. It is certainly different now to what it was then, but some things are as relevant today as they have ever been, only context has changed. For instance, all Christians are to ‘Live by the Spirit’. They are to work at and display the Fruit of the Spirit in their church life, home life, work life, social life and now social media life. Characteristics such as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Indeed all these are fruit singular not plural. In other words we are to work at these as a whole and not just pick which ones we like the best.

Paul is saying that those who belong to Christ are to be different from the norm; they should live by the Spirit and be guided by the Spirit.  Not conceited, competing against one another or envying one another”.  (Gal 5: 25f)

Part of this discipline is to share what we have and to give generously of our resources to God’s Kingdom work. As one parish, one church, one body we are not in a competition for those resources, but seeking to give generously to God. Thank you to everyone who, for instance, gives their time, abilities or finances to the ministry of our churches in whatever way. We have exciting times ahead. This month the PCC will be considering Stewardship with the diocesan Generous Giving Team and now that we have diocesan approval for the refurbishment of St John’s Centre, we are also going to be fully involved in growing the finances we need for the 2020Vision project. This is not simply about fund raising, it is about responding to God’s generosity to us.

We may have just entered ‘Ordinary Time’ (from now until the beginning of Advent), but with open generous hearts to what God has done for us, and what God is able to do in us and through us, we may also see extraordinary times ahead, as we endeavour to ‘Live by the Spirit’.

With every blessing

Revd Nigel Chapman