What’s The Least I have To Do?
I was sitting in the Church service last Sunday and as we were encouraged to look outwards, the word ‘Birthing’ came to mind. It could have been the cheese that I ate the night before, it could have been my mind wandering, or it could have been God’s spirit encouraging us. I dare to believe it was the latter. We sit here in the middle of Advent waiting to celebrate the birth of our Lord and His new life as God reached out. At the same time as we listen to God for the direction of His church in Bedhampton, we are aware that He promised a new life, a life to the full. There is something special in the waiting and the listening as new life approaches. Let us not rush too quickly towards what we hope for, but instead enjoy the journey and hear what God has to say both about the arrival of His son and our future.
Speaking Notes – Caveat
These notes are my speaking notes and are provided as an accompaniment to the recording. Please accept that they are not intended to be a published grammatically correct essay. I do hope and pray however they help you move towards Jesus.
Now onto the content…
As you may know, I am the proud Father of three children. I say, children, the youngest Jack, is 21 and works reaching out to those being trafficked into the sex industry. My eldest Becky is in her third year of teaching. And my middle girl Jess is getting maried next year. So I guess I should stop referring to them as children about now.
But it was mainly when they were children that I used to have this reoccurring problem. when you raise children who are intelligent, to think for themselves you can end up with problems sometimes. For example, I would say something along the lines of Don’t drink the coke from the fridge unless Mum or I are here. Then I would discover that the coke from the fridge was gone, and confront the culprit. I’m not going to tell you who that usually was, but He would say something like. You and Mum were in you were in the other room.
Or I might say to my the girls. Don’t pinch your brother, I can’t stop him retaliating if you pinch him. You know what would happen. I would hear cries from across the house and then discover one of the girls in tears pointing the finger at Jack, crying I didn’t pinch him. Jack’s response would of course not because you punched me.
You will be glad to hear that these things did eventually stop happening, as they got older. But the point was they were and are intelligent children. They knew if they did not do what I asked them to do there would be consequences to their actions. So they didn’t do what I told them not to do. They lived by the letter of the rules of the house. The problem, of course, was that whilst they lived by the rules, they missed the point of the rules. By seeing what they could get away with they missed my heart for our family and my desire for love and abundance in that.
As I re-read our Gospel today that is what jumped out at me. Here are the people speaking to John the baptizer saying.
What should we do then?
But it does not seem to be with a heart of what can I do to help? They may as well have asked
What’s the least I have to do to please God?, What can I get away with?
John we know from Matthews Gospel has been saying to them
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
And here in Lukes Gospel, he says
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Repentance comes from the Greek Metanoia (Meta-no-eh-oar) and means to change your mind.
In Psychology is refers to a “fundamental and stable change in an individual’s life-orientation.” Carl Jung would say it was
“a spontaneous attempt of the psyche to heal itself of unbearable conflict by melting down and then being reborn…”
John the Baptizer is saying to know God is to completely think differently to the world. To turn away from our own desires and as Jesus would say later to love God and to love others with your whole heart.
You could say to have our human psyche and spirit become one with God’s spirit.
To be healed. And yet, the people turn to John and they say:
What must we do? What’s the least we can do to be known by God?
Once again as mere humans we miss the point just as my young children did. Because our God is not a God of the minimal. Our God is not a God of rules that you live by and are saved by the skin of your teeth because say some magic words or you stick to the letter of the law. No, our God is a God of love, our God is a God of abundance.
If you read this book you will see through it a God of abundance a God who says love people with your whole heart. Just as we find today when we find ourselves in Philippians where Paul and Timothy, say:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Rejoice and let your love and gentleness be part of that rejoicing. Our faith is not a dead faith. Our faith is not a static faith. Our faith is a faith of action of gentleness to all. Our faith is a faith that rejoices.
The Big Idea
For me, that is a big idea.
Rejoice in the Lord always….: …Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
So as I finish and leave some space for reflection in God’s abundance.
Let us not seek God’s minimum but let us rejoice in seeking God’s maximum.
And at this time of Advent, we are in a time of waiting and listening. We are waiting for the arrival of Jesus. I believe some of us are waiting for a personal revelation of Jesus in our lives. In my prayer in church last week the word Birthing came to mind. I believe God is saying that he is birthing something here right now. In this place, he is birthing something new for individuals. As we wait.
Let us not seek God’s minimum personally but let us rejoice in seeking God’s maximum.
You may have also heard that as a church we are in a time of waiting and listening to God about our VIP. What Vision, what Identity and what Purpose he has for us as a church. I believe God is birthing something here right now. In this place, he is birthing something new for us as a community. As we wait.
As we wait to hear God let us not seek God’s minimum for this community but let us rejoice in seeking God’s maximum.