This week Graham continued the series on surprise the world by Michael Frost. He provided us with some reflections from his past experiences and provided advice for us so that we can stand firm, avoid discouragement and through God we can make a real difference in our world.
You can listen again to the sermon here:
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labour in vain.
Matthew 15:14-16 (The Message)
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven”.
To be “sent” has many layers of meaning. It includes being fully human being creative and appreciating beauty. One aspect is that we might have influence.
Obviously, as I stand before you I want to influence you. But do you want to be influenced by me? Much depends upon whether you want to be influenced. You have free will. You have the power to resist. If you want to influence others you must remember that, they can resist!
But I aim to influence you. I have an aim. Those who aim at nothing get what they have aimed at – nothing.
How can we be influencers? Well I think we need to face the fact that we are not always right in our judgements and opinions, but our values always are if they are the values of the Kingdom of our God. I have found that systems are especially difficult to influence.
I became to be a Justice of the Peace. The selection, training and beginning as a “winger”. I did not expect to change the world but I intended to do the right thing, I knew my values. I wanted to treat offenders and victims justly. Yes I hoped to have influence as one who carried the presence of Jesus.
We would sit in court and decide a person’s guilt or innocence. We did fines enforcement when people were trying to hide their assets or making excuses. We would decide a sentence based on all the information we had. With breaches of bail, the decision was how tough or lenient should we have been? We would spend a great deal of time chatting, filling in time, in the retiring room as legal negotiations went on without us, or as we waited for all parties to arrive. Did I have influence then with my bench colleagues? I would often be called upon to give an defence of the hope I carried.
To be a person of influence means taking a stand for Kingdom values even when it may not be pleasant for us.
When do we dissent? We may think we are ready to do so but when it comes to navigating our context we need wisdom as well as courage.
Systems are not easily changed. Be ready to speak. Always behave with care.
If we want to have an influence for Jesus and his kingdom, it is worth remembering some important points or we will get discouraged, or even ready to give up.
- Your judgements and opinions are not always correct, but the values of the Kingdom always are.
- It is not your kingdom you are building. It belongs to another and is essentially his responsibility. We can pray “your kingdom come…” and in doing so remind ourselves that it is his kingdom and his responsibility.
- Some things will not turn out as you had prayed for, hoped for and worked for. Deal with that truth before the discouragement comes along.
- Some of the things that you will do will seem to have such little significance you may question their value. But the little things can have the effect, like a rudder steering a great ship, of changing things.