Among the reports and blogs about the Baptist Assembly and
the theme of shining like stars I wonder what God might be saying to BUGB. What follows isn’t so much a blog as a mini
sermon; not one I can imagine ever been asked to preach at a Baptist event
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of
wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will
produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will
lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for
eternity.” John 12:24-25
At a troubling point in our denominational history, it is
easy to look for voices of salvation and a quick fix to get us going again. We’ve
just appointed a new General Secretary, we’ve embarked on a restructuring programme
so we’re good to go. But wait, is this
what the Spirit is saying or what we would like to hear? Maybe there is a
deeper challenge for us to grapple with.
A willingness to see the things we count as Baptist life
fall to the ground and die. Those elements of life together which give us
identity and security, the ways of being Baptist which we take pride in and
which give us a sense of purpose; are we willing to lay them down and see them
The temptation to carry on with business as usual is great.
The attraction of activity, the pull of the familiar and lure of success; all
make us want to move on and get going. However, it is a temptation we must not
fall for, because first we must be prepared to die.
Like a seed falling to the ground death will give rise to
new life. The loss of what we once held dear will give way to flourishing new
lives, a plentiful harvest of new congregations.
How can we navigate this hour? As a denomination we need a
fresh commitment to following Jesus, to serving him. Being the people who do
what Jesus would do and who pray the things Jesus would pray. For it is as we
love Christ, follow him and seek to lift him up, that the Spirit will be manifest in our life together.
As the people of God our security is not in processes or
familiar ways of working. It is not in heritage or reputation; it is in our
inclusion through Christ. Our future is not a place (whether a good place or
not) it is in a relationship. And everything else we must be prepared to lay
down so that the character of God can be revealed afresh.