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In the comfortable times ‘clear signs’ can be a bit foggy, in the challenging times we need clarity of vision toward the future. Was it ever thus!

And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail. Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus. Going down to a Samaritan city, Philip proclaimed the Message of the Messiah. When the people heard what he had to say and saw the miracles, the clear signs of God’s action, they hung on his every word. Many who could neither stand nor walk were healed that day. The evil spirits protested loudly as they were sent on their way. And what joy in the city! Acts 8:3-8 (The Message)

In the postmodern culture, into which we are increasingly being immersed, that something is true is less important than that it works. In modernity the arguments were about whether the gospel is true, now there is more importance placed on whether it works. Unfortunately, in recent decades, the importance on the historicity of the gospel and its doctrines has taken us away from its impact. Not that the historicity and doctrines of faith are unimportant but they bear little resemblance to the missional question being asked by a world in need. I don’t even think that the question is related to the supernatural intervention of God in the miraculous (so the cessationists reading this blog can breath easy). The question is ‘Will Christian faith transform life to my benefit?’ with the need to see this in the life of the Christian before converting?

If we are honest embracing the disciplines of the Christian faith, and seeking the transformation the gospel brings, can be like swimming in molten metal. The work of God in our lives, if we choose to accept it, can be more uncomfortable than if we didn’t. The outcome is the thing to hold to though, the transformation is on-going until Jesus comes again or we depart to be with him, but the benefits are to be seen in the present too. What do I mean? No pain, no gain! Taking the steps of faith in Christ means taking steps to follow the crucified and risen Lord. Following him means taking up his burden and seeking to become more like him in every way. It is no easy ask but it is the only way in which our lives will be transformed by God. The only way we can fulfil our God given potential, oppossed, oppressed, or not!

May we embrace the way of Christ and endure the refining work of God gladly. May we show the benefits of the transforming effect of the gospel so that others may find the answer to their question and follow too. Amen.

September 2010
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