home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > JUNE 3rd > UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags – functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was wearing-out, patching-up and hoping that I could extend their lives a little longer, only to accept the fact that despite all of my attempts, I had to throw them out. It was then that I made a life-changing decision. I decided that would stop buying bags and begin to buy luggage that was guaranteed to last. Since that moment, I have never had to throw out a bag or a case. As you could imagine this required a huge change in what I was prepared to spend on luggage. But the reason I value good luggage is not because I like carrying or wheeling bags and cases around — it’s because the right luggage enables the right things to be packed for the right journey. This is how I see Christianity. It is a journey because it requires packing our life luggage and following Christ as we walk with Him. If we were to unpack this life luggage we would find three essential items, and this what we will discover now as we unpack Christianity.

¶ Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7

PACKING FOR THE JOURNEY WITH CHRIST

The Bible describes following Christ as a “walk” (Col. 2:6). It is a journey, a life-long journey. There are many people in our church who enjoy going on long hikes. Some of these adventurous people introduced Kim to the joys of bushwalking for days on end through forests, along rivers, through streams, up steep hills, across inlets in small row-boats to continue walking through the bush on the other side. After Kim had tasted of the joys of walking through the gorgeous Tasmanian outdoors, she insisted that I join with her in a walk from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek so that I too could become enraptured by the incomparable pleasures of strolling in the sunshine through the Tasmanian countryside.

To go on this stroll from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek would require proper walking boots, gaters, a raincoat, a walking pole, and a hiking backpack, Kim said. But then, she explained, we would also need to pack certain things to make our journey possible. Possible? Yes, possible. We would need to pack food, a tent for shelter, and some emergency supplies. Emergency supplies? I wondered. Why would anyone going on a little stroll through the Tasmanian bush need emergency supplies?

To commence this journey required a small plane trip. We were dropped off at Melaleuca (about as south-west as you can in Tasmania). We unloaded our packs from the plane and set out. I discovered that this was not a stroll, nor was it an overnight stroll. This journey usually takes 5 – 7 days. It involved walking over the Ironbound Range and traversing through some very muddy rough bush. Now that I think about, this journey has many similarities to our journey through life. And, as Kim said, we really did need our hiking backpacks. And, as Kim said, we also really did need to pack the three essential items in our backpacks to make the journey possible. This also is just like being a Christian, because being a Christian is not merely an event, or even a moment, it is a journey that requires packing our ‘life bag’ appropriately.

¶ Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers,
strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church.
You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.
3John 5-6

 

THE THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK FOR YOUR JOURNEY WITH CHRIST

Food. Emergency communication. Shelter.

Following Christ is a journey, an adventure, a trek. It’s a journey that comes with a map, sign-posts, and travelling companions. It’s journey that comes with a complimentary “hiking backpack”. Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your inexhaustible food supply: God’s Word. The new Christian feeds on the goodness of God’s Word in the same way that a newborn baby feeds on his or her mother’s milk (1Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, 14; 1Peter 2:2). Packing the Word of God into your pack involves reading, listening, pondering, study, and applying. It is in the learning to apply it that the growing believer begins to enjoy the “solid food” of the Bible.

Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your communication device. The new and growing believer discovers that they are never alone. They discover that they can talk with their Creator. While non-believers mistakenly think of prayer as the way to control their ‘gods’, the growing believer comes to understand that prayer is talking with the One who has saved and adopted them into His family. Whenever I prepare a couple for marriage, the first and main thing that we work on together is communication. It is in communication that develop intimacy and trust. On the journey with Christ throughout your life you will grow closer to Him by learning to pray. You discover that prayer is not giving God a list of demands, but a means by which you can pour your heart out to Him just as you would with any person you have committed your life to and are increasingly becoming transparent with.    

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
¶ “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do,
for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.”
Matthew 6:6-9

Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your shelter. God has provided shelter for each of His children. It is the local church — their new family. It is in the church that every growing believer finds that they are welcomed, accepted, and belong. It is not just the house of God it is the believer’s spiritual home. God plants His people in a spiritual home where they can be sheltered, protected, nurtured, and nourished. When Jesus told His disciples of His mission to save people from eternal lostness, He described those whom He would save as being formed into His church. The local church is what every growing believer belongs to and makes a priority in their life.

And He [the Father] put all things under His [the Son] feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church…
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities
in the heavenly places…to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 1:22; 3:10, 21

Over the next few Sunday evenings I hope to unpack and explain these spiritual backpack items to several growing Christians. It is my hope that you will join with me and our team to welcome people into our church family and show them their spiritual backpacks and what Christ has put inside each of them. We kick off this Sunday night with a welcome and introductory dinner, then the following three Sunday nights we will ‘unpack’ Christianity together. I hope that you will be able to sit across the table, enjoy some light supper, and be an encouragement to those who are just starting out on their journey with Christ.

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. Marko

    Well done team Kim!
    The hike would have taken longer by Kim dragging baggage along.
    Hope you all got back safely.
    Not for the faint hearted, well done to you all.
    Regards and God bless you all.

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

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THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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