July Letter from Mat

I’ve really been enjoying the world cup—aside from England’s hopeless performances; having said that the opening rounds were a little boring. Rather than trying to win, many teams seemed more concerned with not losing; hence the boredom. I can understand this as there is a huge gulf between the top teams and the others, and the others know they will lose if they try to win.

During one of these turgid matches it struck me that we can often take this overly defensive approach into our Christian life and the life of the church. We can forget the confidence that we have in the victory of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 15Open Link in New Window Paul reminds the struggling and persecuted church of their victory in Christ. He closes this section with the following words;

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (v58)

In Romans 8:31Open Link in New Window he writes;

“if God is for us who can be against us”.

God is on our side. We are raised with Christ. Ultimately we can’t lose. This seems akin to entering a football match knowing with certainty that we are going to win. We need to play the game as well as possible so that others may see how we play it and want to join our team. The opposition will foul, and we will take some injuries, but we know that we will win because our Captain is our Lord Jesus.

As I look at our shared desire to see 100 new Christians through our witness and service I firmly believe that God can do it through us if we play the game with confidence; knowing that we will win. That playing involves sacrifice and prayer and the hard work of discipleship, but we have the victory already. In 1 Cor 15Open Link in New Window Paul uses ‘gives’, present tense, not ‘will give’.

On the 21st of June many of us were able to give thanks to God for the life of Steve Osborne who lived a life of service to God. He played the game well. And he dreamt of the church building being full and being fully used for the kingdom. It was Steve’s love of God and of the St Matthew’s community that inspired his service. As we mourn his loss and give thanks for his life we know that he is enjoying the victory party in heaven. One day we too will join him.

In the meantime we play the game. Let us play in the confidence of Christ victory and not be defensive.

Mat

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