We’ve just gone past the halfway point in this year’s New Horizon evening celebrations. After Malcolm Duncan’s three talks based on the opening of John’s gospel, Simon Guillebaud gave the first of four messages from John 10 (in the mornings, Calisto Odede is working on John 13-17). His theme was Life to the Full.
Simon talked a bit about his own story. He had been on a conveyor belt of success when God dramatically called him to Burundi. He has lived there for most of the past 14 years and his own life has illustrated his message – that the life of faith, following Jesus is risky business. But God calls us to the adventure of living. Jesus did not do all that he did simply to make us nice people!
Jesus promise of abundant life in John 10:10 is the second half of a verse whose first half talks about the thief who comes to kill and destroy. While the work of the devil may seem more obvious in somewhere like Burundi, where terrible atrocities have been committed over a long civil war, the danger is more subtle in the West. The Western Church is like the famous frog in a pan of water which cooks without realising what is happening. We din’t realise that there is a war on and don’t sufficiently guard our hearts. When we are born again we are not dropped into a maternity ward, but into a war zone.
In contrast, Jesus promises abundant life. He promised life, and life to the full.
There are several things that he did not promise.
1 – He did not promise a long life. The important thing is the life in our years, more that he years in our life. If we live a long life, we should make it full (Granny Guillebaud, a widow at 83, started a widows ministry in Africa which she saw through until she went to be with Jesus). We should not fear that our life will end, but that it might never start.
2 – He did not promise an easy life. He does not promise to take away our problems, but he has overcome the world.
3 – He did not promise a happy life.
4 – He did not promise a ‘successful’ life. Faithfulness is the issue.
5 – He did not promise a safe life.
6 – He did not promise a respectable life.
The world needs people who have come alive. We need to discover what makes us come alive and go and do it.
Sanctified resignation has become the new abiding place for many Christians. We are producing a generation whose greatest virtue is that hey don’t offend anyone. How can we hunger and thirst for righteousness if we don’t hunger and thirst at all?
Here are five characteristics of leaders who have finished well.
- They have had a sense of perspective.
- They have had regular intimacy with Christ.
- They have been disciplined in key areas of life.
- They have maintained positive learning attitudes through life.
- They have had a network of relationships, including mentors.
Simon quoted from this famous statement:
I am a part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.”