I walked into Penny’s greenhouse the other day. Large flowers caught my attention. The bright red tomatoes called, saying, “Eat me!”. Of course, I had to obey.
I almost missed the small pink flower in the photograph. I’m so glad I didn’t, because it’s complexity, delicacy and beauty exceeded anything in the greenhouse. How easy it is to miss something wonderful.
Such a very real danger presented itself to the people who heard Jesus. His family (Mark 3) his accusers (chapters 2, 3, 4 etc) and his disciples (chapter 4) all ran the risk of missing or misinterpreting the point of his teaching and presence. I’m fascinated by Mark’s gospel at the moment. We are preaching through it in the Watford Church. The text for a couple of Sunday’s time is Mark 4:21-25.
“He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”” (Mark 4.21–25 NIV11)
The light in the context of Mark 4 could be simply Jesus, but also his message, the good news of the Gospel and the heralding of the kingdom. Perhaps all of the above.
The lamp is meant to be used in a ‘public’ way. To hide it would be nonsensical. Jesus could be responding to worries on behalf of his disciples that his ministry was stirring up too much opposition. The early church might also have felt this. But Jesus reminds them that he (light of the world) was brought into this dark world specifically to shed light on what is hidden (sin and what needs healing). On occasion, bringing the light of Jesus into this world, even into our own lives, causes disruption and controversy. The fear that is connected with change and conflict must be confronted by keeping our eyes on Jesus. That’s why he challenged so many to have faith and not be afraid.
Where today is this light? Where is it hidden or concealed? Perhaps it is in you and me. Are we willing to bring the light of truth into the open? Our actions might not be welcomed, but why let the beauty of the Gospel remain hidden? Whilst courting controversy for its own sake is not healthy, neither is attempting to live a comfortable Christian life.
Let’s make this appeal of Paul a focus of prayer for you and me today:
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19–20)
The gospel is the most beautiful gem in existence. It deserves and needs to be revealed.
You can find all the Tallinn teaching conference classes here: https://www.youtube.com/c/KristlikVabakogudus
- Some of the books I’m reading at the moment include:
- “A model for evangelical theology” : McFarlane. Background reading for my masters in theology starting in October. Expanding the Wesleyan quadrilateral to a quintilateral.
- “Christian Theology : An Introduction” : McGrath. Background reading for my masters in theology starting in October.
- “Teleios Journal” : volume two, a journal of holistic Christian spirituality; Teleios Society
- “Searching for the pattern” : John Mark Hicks An examination and critique of classic church of Christ exegetical and hermeneutical methods.
- “Jesus as Israel” : Peter Leithart
- “Embracing Creation” : John Mark Hicks; Bobby Valentine, Mark Wilson
- “Prayer in the night” : Tish Harrison Warren
The near future
Working on plans (together with Andy Boakye and Douglas Jacoby) for a UK & Ireland teaching programme based on the Athens Institute of Ministry. We will launch in January 2022.
Working on a new five part series on the holy spirit, relationships and unity for the Thames Valley churches of Christ. Second class is linked above.
Trying to catch up with reading in advance of starting my Masters in theology next month.
One last thing…… My friend Obi Abuchi has written a book. I think you’ll like it:
God bless, Malcolm