October Letter from Mat

Many a column inch has been written about the Pope during his visit last week. As I reflect on the visit I’m struck by how bold the Pope was in speaking his mind and surprised by the generous way in which this was heard. People listened, even the media! Pope Benedict is not politically correct, and I don’t agree with everything he says, but he is consistent, unafraid to challenge and he speaks truth inspired by Christian faith. At times he reminded me of Jesus and also inspired me to be more direct about Christian faith, about my following of Jesus. You don’t have to be Pope to do this.

Recently I have been reminded of the story of Obadiah in 1 Kings 18Open Link in New Window. He was a devout believer in the Lord and also a servant of one of the most ruthless, godless and corrupt kings, Ahab. What a challenge! He was salt and light in an unsympathetic culture.

As you read Obadiah’s story it’s clear that he maintained his faith by walking closely to God. How easy it can be in our culture to lose the freshness of our relationship with God, to gradually slip into gossip, complaining and offensive talk, to allow our ethical standards to become fuzzy. Without a close relationship with God, God can easily seem less relevant to our ‘real life situations’. But with a growing relationship with God we can more clearly understand what living for God means.

Obadiah also used his role to hide and feed a hundred prophets during the persecutions that follow. We may not have those opportunities but we do each have opportunities to live distinctively with integrity, to love others, to take responsibility, to forgive and ask for forgiveness, to encourage, to speak in love. And in those small things God will be seen. Of course Obadiah does then risk everything as he agrees to be Elijah’s messenger. Sometimes we also have to stand up and be counted. That may cost, and it also requires that we trust in the Lord our God for everything, and trust our church community to support and pray for us.

Mat

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