What’s This All About?
Most of you who read Firebrand Notes on even a semi-regular basis will know that about eighteen months ago we produced a film/music project called Jesus Come. Not only were Mairi and I really pleased with the way the project turned out, we passionately believe in the message that it carries: that the world is in a desperate, desperate mess (more than we can see) and people are hurting (beyond our capacity to understand); Jesus Christ is the only hope to bring justice and order and He is coming again.
For generations, the church has flitted between the excessive polarities of, on the one hand, talking about the Second Coming too much (while doing very little) and, on the other, focusing on an ‘attractional’, ‘relevant’, seeker-sensitive model of church (while failing to teach disciples to live in the reality of His coming).
In both cases, the gospel is generally more of a fix-my-life-make-it-better prescription than it is an invitation to surrender, suffer, die and live in the evangelistic power of the early church.
Houston, we have a problem.
What Is The Problem?
The problem is that the world is full of unbelieving believers, myself included.
Of course, we do believe in some things (that Jesus died for us so that we might receive the forgiveness of God; that His resurrection is a solid historical fact and that God is love) but do we really believe that one day He is going to appear in the sky, just in the same way that He left (Acts 1:11)? Pause and think before you answer – do you really believe that or do you just think you do?
I think the real answer to this question is complex because all of us would probably instinctively respond by thinking, “yeah, of course, I believe that He’s coming again…” but when we look at our lifestyles closely and honestly, when we allow Jesus’ words in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 to diagnose the health of our discipleship before Him as our Rabbi, do we really believe that He’s coming again?
Think about it like this: if our lifestyles were our truest umpires, would they rule us in or out – as believers or unbelievers?
Converting Lifestyle Lag
Guys, the purpose of this blog series is simple but potentially profound: to help us all to review our lifestyles based on Jesus’ sermon on the mount with a view of closing the gap between what we say we believe and how our lifestyles reflect that truth.
I’m distressed by the brokenness I see on a daily basis here in Edinburgh: not just people living rough and addicted to heroin; not just disease and injury and bereavement; not just divorce and loneliness; not just biblical illiteracy, bipolar church and moral slide; it’s the absence of eternity-shaped lifestyles – of a faith within the daily life of the church that compels us to act and get uncomfortable – that really bothers me. The world is crying for help and we’re not really sure whether to ‘come out’ or not.
Don’t we need God to breathe on our hearts and minds again to rid us of this lifestyle lag and convert us into passionate, faith-brimming sons and daughters who are compelled by eternity more than anything else?
Friends of The Sermon on the Mount
In recent months, I’ve been gripped again by Jesus’ words in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 that, in connection with the end times, diagnose the true condition of our hearts more than anywhere else in the Bible. This series is going to hang off these timeless teaching grenades as they unsettle and inspire, correct and comfort us.
Also, I’ve felt that this blog series would benefit from being collaborative so I’ve invited six other great bloggers to write it with me. They’re all high calibre leaders/authors/teachers in their own right and who I know are all longing to close this confession/lifestyle gap with me. Look out for a range of personality and gifting and style that I know is going to encourage you.
We’re honoured to have Thomas Abbott, Dominic Muir, Dave Bish, Andy Harker, Joshua Jones and Will Maule featuring in the series.
Finally, it’s going to be practical with take-away ‘lifestyle programmes’ just like if you were going to the gym to stop being fat or pack on some muscle.
Would You Sign-Up?
How about signing up here and sharing this on social media so that some proper blog conversations and learning can start to kick off? There will be eight posts in total and I hope a whole load of learning and lifestyle-smashing.
Your input and questions and comments are so very, very important!
Here’s the series outline: