Thursday 14th September 2023
[Paul and Barnabas] preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia,
We live in a world that cries out for a different way than is offered by so many world leaders, politicians, and those in power. Our alternative as Christians is one that offers values that benefit all and is attractive and worth exploring. It is a genuine alternative to destructive policies and divisive words and actions. One that should, at its best, bring peace, unity, hope, and joy. Rather than aiming to control and take power Christians look to the empowerment of all people, especially those whose voices go unheard. This is levelling up in real terms. It can be costly to do yet profoundly rewarding.
Stanley Hauerwas wrote in his book “Reforming Christian Social Ethics: Ten Theses” — “Christians should provide an alternative to politics by being an example of what is achievable for people who have been shaped by, and have shaped their lives around, the story of Christ.”
For me It is here that the life of discipleship starts and ends. What does it mean to live a life shaped by Jesus Christ? We live as a resurrection people, people of an empty tomb not as ones stopping at death on a cross and a tomb with the stone blocking the entrance. Opportunities are there to be grasped for the disciple and the church who start with knowing that all is possible for our life-giving and enhancing Lord. It was this good news that Paul and Barnabas preached in Derbe, and people heard, understood, and accepted for their lives. A Gospel of acceptance and new beginnings grounded in love. Whilst circumstances can look unpromising, by sharing the good news of a risen Jesus and nurturing that seed of faith, we allow God to then deepen and strengthen peoples trust and faith for the work of building the Kingdom.
As we live and witness in your world Lord, going about our daily lives, may we know you as the one in whom we can place our trust and hope. Help us to see with your eyes and respond with your love and compassion so that in the places and situations we find ourselves in Jesus may be seen and known. Let it be so. Amen