We continue our series “God is Stranger” based on Krish Kandiah’s book. In this talk we consider “The God who turns up and picks a fight”. We look at the story of Jacob wrestling with God. We see how God uses messed up people for His plans and how he often meets with us when we are most vulnerable. We reflect on our own wrestling with God and the strange God who can see beyond what we know and may therefore wound us not carelessly but in order to bring us healing and save us.
Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of His ministry and “His change of career”. We are looking at how we can relate to that when God asks us to do something “different”. Going on to consider Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God and how He instructs us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; a city set on a hill. Following Jesus teaching will cost. “Do we want the kingdom without the cost?” and are we prepared both individually and as a church to step out, step forward. We can choose to blend in with the world but God calls us to be visible, distinct and present.
Rwanda, its history, and its people, pose us two questions. What is hope? And what really makes us rich? Without hope life is meaningless, but as Christians we have hope in this life and beyond. God's hope is in us, as Paul says in Colossians, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." That is actually what makes us rich; not the material possessions we accumulate. We need to be careful that we hold lightly what God has blessed us with and reach out to others from the abundance He has given us.
Today’s talk is looking at the paradox of the God who is actively inactive - with reference to the story of Job. He was a good and upright man, but God allowed disaster to fall on him. Why? We have the same questions today. Why does God appear to stand passively by when there is so much suffering in the world? Job’s tragedy and his unerring trust in God encourage us that we can get through suffering with our faith intact.
This week we are exploring how Covenant and Kingdom are woven together in the person of Jesus and in particular look at the importance of identity. We draw on the temptations of Jesus as our example. The reason why Jesus is able to represent the King well and the reason he is able to exercise his authority and power, is that he has a firm grasp on his identity. Satan tries to put doubt in Jesus' mind about his identity so that everything will begin to fall apart - he tries the same with us: if we don’t think we have the authority of the King, we can’t exercise his power. But if we believe our identity is in Christ, when we truly believe in our Covenant relationship with God, we will have the authority and power of the resurrection at work within us.