Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to Norbury Parish Church for hosting Christians in Schools Trust at their all-age service yesterday. We had a wonderful time seeing little Keira baptised into the family of Christ, and enjoyed the opportunity to speak about Learning and Growing in Christ. It’s a message that I wanted to spend a little bit of time bringing to you, our online support network as well.
I always think that the new school year is a more reflective time than new years. As children go back to school and start another chapter of their life, it is hard for parents and grandparents, and anyone who lives or works closely with young people, not to be struck by how fast we grow as humans. The school uniform that fit perfectly in July and is now too small won’t let us forget it, the sudden impulse of our unruly teenagers to study as their exams approaches won’t let us forget it, and our own growth is a constant reminder. One year to another, life changes and we change too, hopefully growing into new circumstances with wisdom and faith. Hopefully. Because growth can be difficult. Even when we desire to grow, it can be difficult to know how we should grow in the right way, and what will facilitate it.
On Sunday at Norbury I spoke about some of the ingredients, much as a plant needs certain ingredients, that we need in order to grow fully in Christ. I spoke about how pursuing the holy spirit and the fruits of the spirit in a community of believers allows us to train ourselves in love and faithfulness. When we do this the fruits of the spirit blossom in our daily habits and we grow into them. I spoke about how submitting to the Lord helps us to grow. Both in understanding of him, and also in learning more of his ways. Submission, however, is not the concept of lowering oneself under an authority, but the concept of relationship. The word in the Hebrew text as it is used in proverbs 3:6 (“…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,”) does not denote submission in a hierarchical sense. It means “to know, or recognise.” It identifies a mode of relationship whereby our knowledge of the Lord is so compelling that we constantly refer to him for help in our judgements, not because we should but because we can. This submission is not theoretical acknowledgement, but that which engages the whole energies of the soul. This submission is an active engagement with God, not a passive acceptance of status! How wonderful to know God intimately, and to be grown by him into straight paths of righteousness.
As we enter the new school year and consider how our young people and children might grow in the new term, what they might learn and how they might mature, we might also consider how we are teaching them to grow in the Lord. Do they believe that God is someone they must obey, an authoritarian figure who they have inherited from their parents, or do they believe that Christ is someone they can know and trust and learn from? Let us pray that that it is the second.
This year I am aiming to visit as many of our supporting churches as possible, so if you have an interest in me coming to your church on a Sunday morning to give a presentation about our work, then please do get in touch with me. You can email me at email@example.com.
Please also be reminded of our upcoming prayer meeting, which is happening at Romiley Life Centre at 10am, on Saturday the 24th of September. We hope to see many of you there as we pray for the schools in Stockport! We will also continue to pray that the right individual is brought to the trust to fill our open position, and would appreciate every prayer you can offer on our behalf in this matter. Just to give you some motivation, I think the quote below is a great example of why we pray together, why we pray at all! Because through it God changes us, and through us he might change the world.
See you there!