Thursday, 15 August 2019

What is truth?

Jeremiah 23:23-29. False prophets and their “dreams” are here contrasted with the voices of true prophets. True prophets can be distinguished by the fact that true prophesy is like fire and a hammer – that is, words that unsettle and disturb, rock the established order, and unmask hypocrisy and injustice. True prophets can only really be discerned in hindsight, and in private may be wracked by self-doubt.
Hebrews 11:29 – 12:2. The faith (and the suffering) of all the Old Testament figures is given to encourage the faith of contemporary Christians. They are included and lauded not just as figures from a long dead past but as a present “cloud of witnesses” to whom the current crop of believers owe a debt of responsibility. All of those figures were driven by faith in God despite themselves never seeing the fulfilment of God’s will – Jesus Christ – “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (12:1).
Luke 12: 49-56. Jesus describes the reality of the situation that his message of peace will ironically cause division, even amongst families. His “baptism” refers to his crucifixion (and St. Paul also describes Christian baptism as being baptised into Jesus’ death). Fire is also associated with cleansing and more positively with the Holy Spirit. Jesus then derides people for being able to forecast the weather accurately but are blind to the signs of the times.

How do you know that what I, or anyone taking a service is telling you is the true word of God?
One answer to that is that within the structures of the ordination process, the church tries to ensure that within certain parameters like high or low church, or theological emphasis, they have confidence in the person chosen to try and accurately discern, reflect and interpret what the Spirit reveals to them.
In short, the church tries to weed out false prophets. There wasn’t any kind of process in Jeremiah’s time of course. Who was a true prophet and who was a false prophet was a very grey area. Prophesy itself came into huge disrepute so that what turned out to be genuine prophets didn’t actually want to be associated with the title at all.
Amos, one of the most respected prophets tried to distance himself by saying,
“I was not a prophet, nor a prophet’s son but a sheep breeder and a dresser of sycamore trees” (7:14).
One way that Jeremiah offers to discern a true prophet from a false one, is that a true prophet’s words are like a fire and a hammer. That is, the true word of God unsettles, disturbs, shakes the foundations, and confronts hypocrisy and injustice. Today we might say it speaks truth to power.
The honeyed words of the false prophets just say what they think people want to hear. Prophesy not from conviction but by focus group and opinion poll.
A great modern hero of mine was Harry Williams CR, a monk at Mirfield when I was there, since sadly died.
Harry had been a great and highly thought of theologian, preacher and teacher, and had been a fellow, lecturer and Dean of Trinity college Cambridge.
Right up until his nervous breakdown caused by his cognitive dissonance between his life and the gospel he was preaching.
When he had recovered after years of psychotherapy his true ministry really started, when he became concerned by true experience.
He vowed never to ever preach anything ever again which didn’t have its roots in true lived experience and he became a true prophet, rather than just a “dreamer” as Jeremiah calls it.
Words and ideas can purify like fire, and shatter peace like a hammer and this is what Jesus rightly prophesied when he said to his disciples,
“Don’t think my words are going to bring peace, it’ll be more like a sword. I will divide opinion, split families”. His words and actions weren’t designed to do that – they were words of love and peace – but he correctly forecast that discord would be a natural result, because words and actions divide people.
For us it means that as long as we are as certain as we can be that we are speaking truthfully and representing as accurately as possible the nature and purposes of God, we shouldn’t be either surprised or deflated if our words cause division.
One of the most pertinent questions in the whole new testament is posed not by Jesus or an apostle but came out of the mouth of Pontius Pilate, when he asked Jesus “What is truth?” (John 18:38)
This itself was a retort to Jesus saying he was a witness to the truth, and John’s gospel contains the answer to that question when Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
We worship truth, embodied for a while here on earth in Jesus.
The way of Jesus is the way of sacrificial love.
The truth of Jesus is that he is the eternal word made flesh.
And in that truth and love is revealed the true nature of being, of life itself, which is God, which cannot be destroyed.
Whatever else we preach, to be a true prophet of God we have to preach that. Only God can save anyone. If Jesus is the true son of God and God is one, then true Salvation cannot be found anywhere else except in God and the truth of God is made manifest in Jesus. In that way salvation being found no-where else is not a statement that excludes anyone but states a fact about God who is entirely inclusive no matter what religion or none that you follow.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Coming home.

Genesis 15: 1-6. This section provides the proof text to St. Paul that Grace preceded law in God’s economy of salvation because Abraham predates Moses (and the ten commandments) by several centuries. Abram believed God “and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (verse 6). That Abram continually doubted and questioned God though should encourage us. Faith is no easy option.
Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-16. The Genesis reading is a good accompaniment to this reading from Hebrews which lauds the faith of Abraham among others. Without knowing that Abraham often doubted though, we could end up having a false view of faith as necessarily being full assurance all the time, which is unrealistic. We are human and subject to human frailty. But at our best, the vision of everlasting life in a new heaven and a new earth should spur us on to become the person God always wanted us to be.
Luke 12: 32-40. Jesus says to his disciples. First of all get your priorities right. The “treasure” that should be motivating us is of the Kingdom of God. This will have economic repercussions on our earthly treasure but the kingdom is all that really counts in the end. We are told then to keep awake, as a slave should keep awake for the return of his master in the early hours – so a warning against Christian complacency.

That we are saved by faith in God’s grace and not by following the law was absolutely fundamental to St. Paul and in his great treatise on the subject in his letter to the Romans, the incident we heard read to us from Genesis was pivotal.
Abraham had “righteousness” – that is declared right before God simply because he believed God’s promise, well before he was circumcised and certainly well before the written law which wasn’t delivered to Moses until many centuries later.
Being declared righteous includes being accepted and forgiven – a spiritual healing of the soul we call Salvation – the divine healing.
The author of the book of Hebrews also looks back to the example of Abraham amongst others as an example of great faith and verse one defines faith like this;
“The assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen.”
But if you are anything like me, that description of faith could be daunting because in reality faith oscillates and is stronger on some days than on others.
But a simple reading of the story of Abraham and Sarah reveals that while  their faith was often strong, the doubts and scepticism were constant companions as well. Which is good news for all of us that despite the doubt and scepticism along the way, God declared Abraham right with Him.
Jesus spoke some comforting words to his disciples, many of whom doubted Jesus even after the resurrection according to Matthew’s gospel and the words we heard today are ones we all need to hear,
“Do not be afraid little flock, for it the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”
Having the kingdom – God’s Spirit working with your Spirit to bear fruit for you and the world is the only real treasure worth having because the kingdom is eternal. Our money and possessions stay here when we move on. “You can’t take it with you” as they say,
But the kingdom is an eternal transcendent possession. Fruit grown here will serve you for ever in your purse which is your soul. 
But living a virtuous, good life here is often hard. It is not glamourous or cool and life can grind us down, but the advice is not to lose patience. Keep faith and don’t tire of being and doing good or worshipping God. In the poetic language of the parable,
“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit”.
For the promises of God contained within the Bible are that which inform our faith. And the person making those promises is important.
It is often reported that Jesus spoke, not as the scribes and Pharisees, but as one who had authority.
We are much more inclined to believe someone who is manifestly upright and wise and true and speaks with authority.
The promises of God in the mouth of Jesus have divine authority. He is a person to be believed and followed in full confidence.
That future that we cannot see, or even well understand, is described in Hebrews as a homeland. Finding God and his kingdom is a “homecoming” and discovering that God was there all the time, waiting for you is a description of salvation we recognise from the parable of the good Samaritan.  
And we all thrive best when we have a secure homelife. Finding God and his Kingdom is coming home.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Towards a new perspective

Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 12-14; 2: 18-23. This is an honest antidote to all those who say that the world naturally points to God. The author is a pessimist who is sensitive to the injustice of the world (4:1-3) and uncertain about organised religion (5: 1-6). Trying to find any meaning to life by human effort is folly, and human achievements are temporary, and life is unhappy. The “Teacher” ends up acknowledging the awesomeness of God and deciding that God doesn’t have to justify himself. That this tract is in the Bible at all is a testimony to the breadth and search for truth that the Bible encompasses.
Colossians 3: 1-11. All the morality that follows is dependent on verse 1 which says “If you have been raised with Christ”. The morality that follows is pretty conventional and one of the main messages is contained in verse 11 which says that in this renewal all differences between race and culture are transcended for those “raised with Christ”.
Luke 12:13-21. Luke is adamant that property and wealth are spiritually dangerous and this parable echoes Ecclesiastes in saying that effectively this is vanity because all lives come to an end. But there is no mention here of the good that money can do or how terrible poverty can be, and common ownership and a collective pot were ideals that were never taken up by the church. But how we use money can be seen as a prime indicator of where our heart’s loyalty lies.  
I have a confession to make. When I had a crisis of faith after encountering the wild claims of certain people on the charismatic fringe of the church, it was reading Ecclesiastes that brought me back into the church.
Its decidedly pessimistic understanding of our lot, human ambition, and apparent futility of life was a powerful corrective to the wild claims of magical healing, speaking in tongues, and people falling over that had such a negative impact on me at the time.
The very fact that such a book could be included in the canon of the Bible spoke volumes to me of a much more realistic, truth seeking version of the Judeo-Christian tradition that took opinion and testimony from all sides. That took contrary sceptical views and insights seriously. It took the search for truth itself very seriously. Apparently, this is the only piece of Ecclesiastes that is included in the whole three-year Sunday lectionary cycle, which is a shame.
The pursuit of truth is very important. Scientific truth, or spiritual truth makes no difference. One cannot be in competition with the other.
Getting to the bottom of the essential nuggets of truth contained within scripture is a part of my job description which I do to the very best of my ability.
Applying that wisdom and insight to our two other readings today what can we discern with any certainty?
Both of them assert that when we accept the truth claims of Christianity our values and way of looking at the world changes. We re-orient our outlook and ways of being and doing to reflect new information – new truths. This dramatic sea change the Bible calls Metanoia – which we translate as repentance. It involves changing our standpoint from a self-centred way of looking at things to a more God-centred way of looking at things.
Paul writes in Colossians that “if we have been raised with Christ” (ie, changed our view of the world) the following should happen, and then he lists a whole litany of things we should no longer do, a list which prioritises self-gratification over the good of all, mentioning everything from fornication to abusive language. The list is pretty uncontroversial in itself but are marks of the process of the re-orientation of the self.
One mark of that re-orientation is seeing all people whatever their race or culture as equal in the sight of God because God made all human beings in the image and likeness of God and Jesus died for the sins of a Somali drug dealer as much as he died for a English stockbroker. We need to be reminded of this radical insight into the truths of Christianity on a regular basis because it runs so counter to conventional human wisdom which wants to put everyone on a scale of goodness from 1 to 10. Shifting from human wisdom to God’s wisdom seriously taxes our ability to accept these kinds of insights.
Likewise, Luke’s gospel if taken too literally could be said to say, “Don’t ever plan or prepare for the future”, but that is not I believe what it is saying. As part of the re-orientation of our life should come the realisation that the proper use of the money we have is an indicator of where our heart’s loyalties really lies.  It is also a reminder that we are mortal and what God desires from us in our dealings on earth is respect for others, a concern for fairness and justice, using our money to further the kingdom of God no less, instead of our own kingdoms.
Discipleship is a word which we have heard of but perhaps haven’t realised that it is the task of every baptised Christian. Think of discipleship as you and God working together in your very being to gradually turn us around, to look at life, other people, politics, everything really from God’s perspective who wills the best for everyone and make that more and more, our perspective.
It is a narrow path to walk, and requires a certain discipline to make it happen but as Jesus said in Luke 17, the kingdom of God is within you and any change we want to see in the world has to start with us.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Immersed in God's Spirit

Trinity 6 (Proper 12)
I am at St. Peter’s in the morning and Karen is in the villages. We have a baptism in the morning service of Albie Kelly. The readings of the day are as follows;
Genesis 18: 20-32. In this important piece of writing, a moral question is being resolved by discussion, and in the discussion, it is God’s morals that are being investigated. Two moral absolutes collide; that wickedness must be punished, and righteousness should not be punished because of the wickedness of others, and in this case, it is justice for the innocent that prevails over punishment of the wicked. 
Colossians 2: 6-19. Paul is desperate to convey the fact that Jesus is the one thing (way) necessary to understanding our spiritual health and relationship to God. Nothing else is necessary, not religious rituals, angels, philosophy, or asceticism. We have direct access to God through Jesus without any other mediators being needed.
Luke 11: 1-13. The Lukan version of the Lord’s prayer is shorter and less well known than Matthew’s version and the rest of the passage encourages persistence in prayer and that God will and can only give good gifts which are all gifts of the Spirit.

When someone is being baptised, as when we ourselves were baptised, and as Albie Kelly is being baptised soon, we need to remind ourselves what we were, and Albie will be being baptised into, and what baptism itself signifies and Paul’s piece in Colossians today gives a good description of that.
Baptism literally means “Immersion”, though of course we will just pour water over Albie’s head today. It speaks of being immersed in God’s Spirit, that same Spirit that was so evident in Christ’s life and works.
That same Christ who Paul says today is all you need, to be healed, or made whole, or made clean, which are all ways for describing what the word Salvation means. The root of the word Salvation is “salve”, a word we still use to mean a healing balm.
We were baptised into the salvation of God revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Christ and the knowledge that this is all we need and doesn’t need any supplementary input, whether that be good works, the intercession of Angels, self-mortification or asceticism, thorough knowledge of theology or philosophy, nor attendance at certain religious festivals.
Some of those things may be good in and of themselves but they can’t add anything to what is already complete. Salvation – divine healing – is the ground, the foundation on which everything else is built. You can’t be “more saved”.
And baptism is the full and complete rite of initiation into Christ. The newly baptised have all the rights and privileges of incorporation into Christ, including the main one of being declared a “child of God” and part of the body of Christ, the church.
We baptise children as an act of faith in God’s prevenient Grace, a grand term that means that we believe that God always makes the first move and is working within an individual long before there may be any formal acceptance of the faith. We believe that our prayers for Albie are effective whether Albie knows he is being prayed for or not.
God is working within each one of us whether we are conscious of it or not.
We of course hope that one day Albie will consciously accept the baptism promises that will be made on his behalf today, but that is not a given. God requires us humans to do some of the heavy lifting ourselves. Baptism is not magic and God doesn’t force Himself into anyone’s life.
The truth only has the power of truth when it becomes true for you.
That is the role that faith plays in the human economy of salvation. The Baptism promises of God only have an effect on the life of an individual when they are believed and lived.  
God and his promises of love and commitment will need to be made known to Albie when he is old enough to understand. He will need to be introduced to worship and a worshipping community if he is to understand what those things really mean.
He will need the prayers and encouragement of parents, godparents and the church.
We thrive as individuals when we have the love, encouragement and support of others and of God and this is what the church at its best offers to its members. That was what was offered to us at our own baptisms and that is what is being offered to Albie later this morning.

Monday, 22 July 2019

She sat at Jesus'feet and listened.

Genesis 18: 1-10a. The visit of the three men (The Lord in verse 1) to Abraham is one of the most enigmatic stories in the Bible and provided the subject matter for probably the most famous icon of all time, Andrei Rublev’s Trinity. In this icon the three men represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (from left to right) depicted as such through the colours of their clothes.
Colossians 1: 15-28. “The image of the invisible God” is a phrase that immediately testifies to the inadequacy of language when trying to express divinity, for something invisible cannot have an image, and yet we somehow know what Paul means. He then describes what Jesus has achieved for us “reconciling all things to himself”
Luke 10: 38-end. The story of Martha and Mary, coming as it does after the story of the good Samaritan is no accident. It affirms that discipleship is not only limited to love of neighbour but also love of God. The Samaritan and Mary belong together. Doing without listening can degenerate into purposeless busyness while listening without doing just mocks the words. We are told only two things about Mary – that she sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to Him. This story has nothing to do with the merits or otherwise of housework!

Let me say right off that the story of Mary and Martha is not about housework or its importance. I don’t think Jesus held any strong theological convictions about dusting!
The key to understanding this story is noting its position in the text. It comes directly after the parable of the Good Samaritan for good reason – they are to be seen in parallel.
The Good Samaritan is about putting your beliefs into practice and loving your fellow man. Mary and Martha is also a parable if you like. It emphasises that as well as loving your fellow man, loving God is quite important too.
We are told only two things about Mary. That she sat at Jesus’ feet and that she listened to Him. There is a tendency amongst some more activist parts of the church to see the church as only being church when it is doing something and that time spent in worship is time wasted. This is the people this story is aimed at, just as the Good Samaritan is aimed at people who are happy to spend time in worship but don’t put their faith into practice.
Worship and action are two sides of the same coin. One should feed the other in fact.
It might be good to think of worship as the time to stop reflect and re-fuel. It is the strengthening of worship that feeds and empowers the manner and character of your life – like a virtuous circle.
That sets the scene for two readings that extol the glory of God nature and purposes.
In Genesis, in a story that has always captured my imagination we are told that Abraham was visited by the Lord. In the very next verse, the Lord becomes three men. Sarah is detailed to prepare an appropriate meal, so if anyone is still perturbed by Martha’s treatment in the gospel reading, let it be know that hospitality and taking time and trouble to welcome visitors, especially so here as it is God himself, has always been central to the Judaeo-Christian tradition.
But the striking thing about the visitors is that their concern is practical and related to the lives of Abraham and Sarah. Their concern is that there be physical offspring even at this time in their old age. Carrying on the theme of last week that God is both transcendent and at the same time intimately involved with creation.
What an episode like this emphasizes, much like the birth of John the Baptist, or like the virginal conception of Jesus, is that, God’s power is able to overcome all human limitations.
Being interested in the lives of humanity, Christians believe that God visited his people decisively, not in the guise of three men, but one special man Jesus Christ, and Paul’s description of Him starts with his role in the creation of everything, then moves to describe his redemptive work for all people, then moves to the work of the church which is the vehicle for continuing life, and all held together by the cosmic universal nature of our faith.
In this, the church has a vital role. Paul tries to describe how the Spirit of the risen Christ is bonded with all the disparate Christian communities that were rapidly springing up.
He was trying to express a bond that was much richer and more intense than just a teacher and his followers – it was experienced as much more personal than that.
My hope and prayer is that our relationship with God through Jesus Christ wherever it happens to be now continually matures and deepens into a more personal connection. Paul affirms here the oneness of Jesus and his people, even though it is hard to articulate exactly how that occurs – Just that is to what the experience of the church bear witness.
A oneness Jesus prefigured in life when he instituted the act of Communion that we celebrate. Do this in remembrance of me, and word remembrance is anamnesis, which carries with it not just the notion of remembrance but also of “making present”. So lets make manifest God amongst us as we commune with both earth and heaven.

Monday, 15 July 2019

The kingdom of God is within you

Deuteronomy 30: 9-14. The word of God is near you – it is not so remote that we have to strain to hear. It reminds me of Jesus saying in Luke 17:21, “The kingdom of God is within you”
Colossians 1: 1-14. God wants us to have “life in all its fulness” as it says in John and here Paul too prays for our growth as human beings, a process called “bearing fruit” in the New Testament. This is in fact the purpose of God for every individual. To grow into the person that God always wanted us to be.
Luke 10: 25-37. Perhaps one of the best-known parables of Jesus in the New Testament. “The Good Samaritan” tells us not only who our neighbour is (all fellow human beings), but that neighbourliness is demonstrated when we answer their need.

We believe two different things about God at the same time. We believe he transcends all things and is in some way outside and distinct from the created order – the Orthodox call Him the source less source of everything.
But we also believe that God is involved and present to us within the created order. We believe that Jesus Christ was as Paul describes Him in the very next verse in Colossians “the image of the invisible God” but that is the start of next Sunday’s reading from Colossians
Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself”.
So God is distinct from the world, yet entered the world, to bring that world back into a relationship with Himself that had strayed from his way and his truth.
I think it only fair to tell you at this point that there will be a test on all this at the end.
Everything I have said so far speaks of relationship. How God relates to Jesus, how God relates to the world, and because we are made in the image of God, therefore how we relate to God and how we relate to the world.
The Bible is a book dedicated to those two twin dilemmas facing humankind.
Through Jesus, God communicated with us directly through parables how to address those two dilemmas and one of the most famous is this parable we heard today called the good Samaritan.
The Golden rule is basically Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.
But the question “who is my neighbour” was asked because the questioner wanted to know where to draw the line between neighbour and non-neighbour.
In the parable Jesus makes clear that real love does not ask for limits, but only for opportunity, so if a person has real love in his heart, he won’t ask the scribe’s question.
Jesus was saying, using their own terms and prejudice against them, “Here by your own admission is a half-breed heretic fulfilling God’s law better than the pillars of the Jewish religion”. This is what neighbour love means my friend and this is the kind of action God requires of you.
So while it is natural for humanity to organise ourselves into groups, nationalities, languages, social classes, religions and nations and a hundred other ways of drawing lines between us, those lines must be porous.
Before ad behind all those divisions, we share a common humanity. In Christian terms we are all made in the image of God, and love knows no barriers.
If we can relate to people in that way, we are doing what God requires of us when we relate to others.
That is one of the hallmarks of being transferred from the powers of darkness as Paul puts it today, into the kingdom of his beloved Son.
Bringing people into the kingdom of God was the central feature of all Jesus’ preaching. The first record of what Jesus preached is recorded in Mark, “Repent for the kingdom of God has come near.”
The Kingdom of God is present wherever God’s ways, his truth and his life reign or hold sway in anyone’s heart. That is what we mean by saying “Jesus is Lord”.
Jesus is only Lord if you actually follow and do God’s ways. Someone is your Lord when you owe them your loyalty and allegiance and they direct your thoughts and actions.
Everything I’ve been speaking about this morning is neatly summarized in a beautiful exchange in Luke.

Luke 17:20-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Coming of the Kingdom
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, [a]‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The kingdom of God is within you. It is all about the disposition of the human heart, mind, soul and spirit.
Following Jesus is how we enter the kingdom of God. In doing so we heal our relationships with each other and with God creating peace.

Monday, 8 July 2019

He died to save us all.

Isaiah 66: 10-14. The exiles who had returned to the ruined city of Jerusalem were the recipients of this text, and it first portrays the city, and eventually God himself, as a nurturing mother. Though the piece promises a materially prosperous future (never to be discounted) to the Jews, Jewish history shows that this is dependent on social justice and spiritual prosperity.
Galatians 6: (1-6) 7-16. Verses 1-6 say that within the Christian community kindly repair is preferable to a ticking off when it comes to dealing with any problems. 7-16 say that the harvest of the future is sown in the present. The meaning of “flesh” and “spirit” here can be described as the difference between suiting yourself and only yourself or serving God and neighbour.
Luke 10: 1-11,16-20. Jesus appointed people to go before him “where he himself intended to go” to prepare the way of the Lord in a kind of echo of John the Baptist. That is our mission by extension as well, but it warns us not to waste too much time and energy with people that reject the gospel. Those who reject us reject Jesus and therefore reject God. We have to marshall our resources and energy wisely.

A Spiritual attribute I pray for more than most is wisdom. The wisdom to discern what is most important in a piece of scripture, wisdom to discern accurately what is desirable or possible at any given moment, and wisdom to read the recipients of difficult pieces of scripture.
There is much practical wisdom displayed in these readings today particularly by Jesus when He says “wipe off the dust from your feet those places that don’t welcome you”. Don’t waste precious and finite energy on people who have already rejected God – we have a much bigger job trying to reach even the ones that are open.
To that some pious people might say “but isn’t everyone a potential child of God? And worth trying to convert?”
Well of course Jesus of all people knows that – He died for everyone both near and far off – but He recognises practical wisdom. When evangelising, when you hit the buffers, recognise them for what they are and don’t push against locked doors. Look for doors that are already ajar for we don’t have infinite mental and physical resources.
From Paul in Galatians we have some practical wisdom as to how we deal with people who transgress in some obvious way. We are advised to be gentle and work to restore someone to fellowship while acknowledging they did wrong. That takes forgiveness which is the hardest thing for a lot of us. Practicing what we preach is not the easiest path to take.
But in the doing of God’s revealed will we are sowing the seeds of our and the world’s future. When doing good we don’t discriminate between believer or unbeliever, good or bad people, insider or outsider. God’s good will is for all people even while many people reject it.
“For to this end, we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the saviour of all men, especially those who believe” (1Timothy 4:10)
One of the most important verses in the New Testament. Paul there says boldly;
“Everyone is saved by Christ, whether you believe it or not”. It is an objective fact.
We both evangelise and do good works, whatever they may be, because God so loved the world , not the church or religious people or the Jews or Christians, but the world.
The difference between a believer and a non-believer isn’t that one is saved and the other isn’t. It is that one knows they are saved, and the other doesn’t and knowing that has a better quality of life because they have life in all its fulness. What we try to give to non-believers is a gift that enables them to see the truth about life. For Jesus is the way, the truth and the life”. Amen