Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Selwyn to the Rescue! (again)

I've always been astounded at how well my bible notes seem to fit in with where I am on my walk with Christ... particularly when I hit a rough patch. I've been using Every Day With Jesus as a study aid for the past 10 years or so and I am constantly finding myself challenged, encouraged or simply met where I am... through reading the set passage and the accompanying text. The words often seem directly targeted specifically to me, which I find extraordinary... skeptics would say it's just coincidence but I do not believe so - frequency alone disputes that. What is all the more amazing is that the author - Selwyn Hughes, is no longer with us. He passed away two years ago - a faithful servant who is finally receiving his reward in the company of God.

I want to share the latest way in which God has used this man's writing to positively shape me as a person:

In my last post I was feeling quite isolated, I was being painfully reminded that frequently my relationships with other Christians seem pretty one sided. Some friends who I felt should be checking up on me weren't and others had distanced themselves when I sought their company/comfort/advice. As a consequence of this I was tempted... I had a picture in my minds eye of "crossing the road". I almost felt ready to walk in my faith towards God on the other side, away from others - same direction... but without having to put up with people who just want me around for their own benefit. This I realise would have been the wrong course of action... but not being in a rational mindset, it didn't stop me feeling the way I did. I also felt like I'd been blindsided and taken a lot of flak.

Then I caught up with my bible notes and they had this to say:

The spiritual journey is not one that we are meant to walk alone. God intends us to travel in the company of other people. For some this is a wonderful arrangement; for others it is not so wonderful. People can be helpful or they can be hurtful; they can bless us or they can blister us. Over the years I have met many people who have been hurt by other Christians. Sadly, in recent years we have frequently heard the term "friendly fire". Have you ever been hit by a form of "friendly fire"? It is the flak we take from our own side. It is the misguided missile that lands right in our own hearts. People have admitted to me that they have been hurt more by the church than they ever have been by the world. As we have seen from the psalm we have read today (Psalm 41:1-13), King David knew this pain, and Jesus quoted this verse when he said, "He who shares my bread has lifted his heel against me" (John 13:18). The question we must start to think about is how do we deal with relationships, because the way we deal with difficult relationships will determine whether we advance or retreat on the journey of life. Some people live by the words of Ernest Hemingway, who said, "We have to distrust each other; it is our only defence against betrayal." God does not call us to live in distrust, but to live by faith in Jesus Christ. we are disciples of the One who knows what it is to be betrayed. And through his grace we can be victors not victims.

That my friends... was a timely word.

It reminded me of a story I once heard about a man who had stopped going to church. His concerned vicar visited him a few weeks later and asked if everything was OK. The man responded that he was fine, he had a relationship with Jesus... but he didn't feel he needed the Church. The vicar said nothing. Now it was a cold winter's night and they were sat in front of a roaring open coal fire. The vicar reached for the tongs and plucked a burning coal from the fire... placing it on the hearth. Very soon, the coal grew dim and went out. A week later the man was back in church.

Now I wasn't planning on going AWOL from Church, but I was considering distancing myself from some people whose friendship had felt unbalanced and pretty unrequited. I soon took the hint though. Especially when in yesterday's notes, Selwyn made reference to the writings of D. Broughton Knox who believed that the members of the Trinity focus on one another and the Church rather than their own identity within the Trinity... and that as Christians this is how we too should operate.

It made me realise that while I can't do anything about how other Christians choose to behave towards me, I shouldn't be giving myself reasons to "shut up shop" around them. I'm needed even if I'm not always wanted.

It's strange... but since reading that and having a couple of conversations, since rejecting the current temptation of isolationism, things have begun to calm down. It is not the first time I have been tempted in this way and I am convinced it certainly won't be the last. It seems very important to the Enemy to keep me at arms length from God's people... these things happen so intensely it makes me wonder if it is important to God in terms of my calling... perhaps a conversation for another time.

I have to say how grateful I am to the ministry of Selwyn Hughes. I never met him in this life... but I'll be sure to thank him for his service to God in the next!


  1. I think it is always the case that if we earnestly seek we will always find ... not necessarily the answer we want. Once grasped by faith, no matter how hard we rebel it will never let go.

  2. My greatest companion is the teachings of my Savior Jesus Christ found in the Scriptures. Whenever I feel lost or uncertain, betrayed or hurt, I seek Him more earnestly through prayer and then open my scriptures - I find it no coinsidence either how many times it seems a certain verse or teaching stands out so boldly to me, I know God answers our prayers in a very specific way. Matt. 7:7 Jesus promises, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." James 1:5 promises, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

  3. You are so right Nick, Christians have to show themselves friendly and they'll have friends.


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