Today my barber wanted know if I was afraid of flying; inevitably (because the footballer season is done and dusted) he’d asked me about my holiday plans, and we’re flying on Sunday just days after the disappearance of an Egyptian airliner flying from Paris: we live in a fearful age.
I regularly observe someone whose demeanour suggests they are fearful of being mugged: we live in a fearful age. Those on both sides of the Brexit argument have used fear tactics: we live in a fearful age.
So what should Christians do when faced with fear; particularly when it raises its ugly head in Church?
It is apposite therefore that Bishop Paul has entitled the preface to his discussion document (‘Our Growth Conversation: Bigger Church, Bigger Difference’), ‘The Church Unafraid’. He quotes St Paul signing off of his first letter to the Thessalonian Church: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
He then writes: ‘St Paul was delighted with the Thessalonian church. The Christians there had stood firm in persecution. They were an example to others in their love. They remembered Paul affectionately. But Paul had to leave them, and the reports he received from Timothy of their life cause him to write his letter. In it he expresses his love for them, and he speaks of the end of the world, and of what Christians should do in such times. And then, at the end of his letter, he writes the words quoted above. These words are a template for living, and I commend them to our diocese as we seek to be biblical people in our own generation. The essential questions have not changed since the Bible was written.
How should we live? How should we live trustingly? How should we live effectively? How should we preach and live the gospel? And in this very early letter, the compass is set.’
The document highlights the particular challenges we face as a diocese and nationally and they are serious, but they should not cause us to be fearful. You can find the document on the Diocesan website, I’d encourage you to read it, and then take part in the conversation.
You can find the document here: http://www.liverpool.anglican.org/growthconversation
‘And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep you hearts and minds through Jesus Christ’ Philippians 4: 7 (KJV)