Saturday, August 28, 2010

Be a Classy Christian

‘Form is temporary. Class is Permanent’
Paul McGinley (Ryder Cup Vice-Captain)*

Thus was McGinley’s reply when asked if he was concerned about the current form (so close to a final decision on the Ryder Cup Team) of players such as Harrington and Rose. The implication of his reply being that when considering the Ryder Cup you look at the big picture, at history itself – rather than who happened to have a good game last week.

The great players, the ones we remember, the ones who really left a legacy - had ‘class’. That is, they had an ongoing consistency over the longer term that meant even when they were down they were never out. I remember reading a definition of champions – ‘they are the players who most consistently minimise the gap between ability and performance’. Many are the players who have a great tournament only to fade into obscurity afterwards. They clearly had great ability but were unable to consistently produce it when it mattered.

So much for the sporting psychology – but perhaps there is something here for Christians to ponder. Christians are called to service, faithfulness, holiness, to be ‘doers of the word, not hearers only’. Now these are attributes that are, to say the least, often challenging for us. None of us will have a 100% record in any of these areas – we all have bad days, weeks, months – and we all have better days, weeks, month (as we seek to live out the implications of God’s free forgiveness & grace). Our ‘form’ can be great on Sunday evening – only for it to nose-dive on Monday morning. Which, of course, is one of the great frustrations in life.

Now ‘form’ matters – it matters how we speak to someone at any given point, it matters how we react in specific situations, it matters whether we pray or read our Bible today. But what matters most is whether there is a consistency in our form over the longer term – whether the overall pattern of our ‘form’ equals ‘class’. Because in a time of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ faith, over-night ministry sensations, and boom & bust church – we desperately need Christians with Class.

Even John Piper can be off-form in the pulpit from time to time – but nobody doubts he has ‘class’. You and I will let people down on occasions, we will get it wrong, we will disappoint in various situations as we go through life – but what is the overall pattern – consistently inconsistent or consistently consistent?

Great sportsmen are the ones who tie together ability & performance. In Christ and through the Spirit – Christians have been given the ability needed to live in a God-honouring way. We can do it – our moments of good form prove it! The challenge, the invitation - is to so draw on God’s own resources and power that such moments become increasingly the norm.

Most of us are spiritually smart enough to recognize that moments of good Christian form in church are no substitute for consistent Christian class in life. It’s upon the latter that real spiritual legacies will be built and truly Christ-honouring reputations founded. So don't despair when you blow it and don't get puffed up when you do well - what counts is whether over the long term you'll be a Christian who has class.

*The Times, Sports Section, p24 (28th Aug 2010).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

An Elder's CV

A succinct and illuminating talk by Sinclair B. Ferguson on the qualities we should seek in our elders...


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Zambia 2010

Back in Zambia for the annual Pro-Christo Conference. Over the next few days I'll be hearing reports from Pro-Christo missionaries from all over Southern Africa & beyond, along with contributing with Bible teaching and workshops.

A busy week so far has involved preaching at a local church, painting a school building, helping at a field dental clinic (42 extractions in 2 hours), visting the GLO college in the Copperbelt and leading some student devotional times. It's been great to catch-up with Melvin Chiombe and he was hugely appreciative of the gift raised by Greenview members and others through the Ben Nevis climb.

Once again the folks at Pro-Christo are an inspiration with their heart for Mission and their willingness to make great sacrifices for the kingdom.