It was my privilege on Sunday to preach at Living Rock Church. It was a double honour, as it was a visitor service, and so I was speaking to several visitors and non-Christians.
Our current theme is "The Citizenship of a Disciple — The Kingdom of God" which is a subject dear to my heart, which I have spoken on many times; but the challenge was to make the subject accessible to visitors too. This meant, among other things, stripping out all the jargon, and all the assumptions that we just take for granted as Christians. So before I read from the bible, I took the time to explain why it is the greatest book, and why we believe that God still speaks to us from it.
The way I approached the "Kingdom of God", was to start in heaven; something that everyone has thought about and has an opinion on, and then explained that it has been God's plan right from the beginning to bring heaven to earth. He has no alternative plan "B". This is the plan we see introduced in Genesis, and fulfilled in Revelation. The commission given to Adam, and restored in Christ.
I'm not ashamed to admit I was a little nervous beforehand. I'm not saying I didn't have peace — I did. But there is a sense of uncertainty, a requirement for faith. I'm very aware, every time I preach, that although I have done it many times before, I still can't do it without God. If he doesn't turn up with the goods, the very best I can do, is just entertain for 45 minutes. I don't know if other preachers feel the same way, but I often think of Peter, just before he stepped out of the boat; walking was not a problem, but in this situation, without God, that natural ability would count for nothing.
But my confidence in those situations is to remember the faithfulness of God. He has never let me down. Every time I have preached, he has always turned up, and always equipped me. He has never let me fall fat on my face just to teach me a lesson in humility, or to remind me how uninspiring I would be without him. God never sets us up to fail. When he calls you to do something, he will always make it possible, even if it is stepping out of the boat on to the choppy seas.
I'm pleased to report that the meeting went well. I spoke briefly with one visitor, who was in deep conversation with the friends who had brought her, obviously touched by God.