Ethics & Christian living

‘A ship in harbour is safe. But that is not what ships are for’

The church services over Easter are my favourite of the year.

The contemplation of Maundy Thursday, the grit of Good Friday, the waiting on Saturday and the joyful hope of Easter Sunday.

But for me, the best thing about church this Easter weekend was deep conversations and prayers that I shared with three local people who are not part of any congregation. These each happened through community activities our church ran over the long weekend.

It was good to worship with my fellow believers. But it was even better to connect with people beyond our congregation. Sharing the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection brought the hope of Easter alive more than anything else did.

Safe harbours

Safe harbours are important for ships. They need places to be resourced and repaired for their work.  But a ship permanently in harbour is not doing what it is built to do.

Similarly, the Christian faith does not exist to be expressed in church.  It is understandable that people want what is familiar, safe and affirming. But the church should never be an institutional enclave or cultural ghetto. When it does, it is not doing its job. Its also becomes really boring.

Embodying a message

Rather, the church exists to enable the sharing and embodying of a message. Believers need equipping and encouraging to live their daily lives for Christ. But the main place they do this is out in the world: in families, workplaces, communities, clubs, socialising, online discussions and where ever we find ourselves.

God does not have a mission for His Church. He has a Church for His mission. The mission is to share the story of the one who bring life in all its fulness; to see a world more full of those who ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God’ (Micah 6:8).

This is the message for which all Christians are missionaries.

Not Made for the Harbour

This article is short because I want everyone to watch this new song from Andy Flannagan. As well as being a brilliant singer-songwriter, Andy is also is Executive Director of Christians in Politics. Take time to reflect on the lyrics and the great images which illustrate them.

And pray. Pray that God will save us from religion. From the deathly cosiness of a faith only expressed in sanctified settings.

Let us push out from the safety of harbour into the deeper waters. Things may get choppy and feel less safe. But this is what faith is for.

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