Welcome to the ChristChurch blog.

Are you tired of performing? 

I guess whatever our age, performing for others is a pretty regular and standard part of our lives these days. Some more senior in years may say it’s always been this way, but I wonder if there has been an escalation in recent years. I feel it and it is draining.

Testing of school age children is pretty relentless. The stress and anxiety surrounding this and not least the concern regarding parental expectations really is a heavy load for some to bear. Comparison with others and finding your place in the pecking order and coming to terms with that, aren’t easy.

Without questioning the pros and cons of social media, for many the burden to perform is experienced there too. What image do I wish to portray? What is acceptable? How do I compare or compete with that presented by others? For some, this brings much harm. For the many we can find ourselves putting on a bit of an act – presenting the perfect family, the ideal holiday, the blissful relationship. We know this isn’t the whole story, but this is what we present for others to see. We can be driven by a deep need within to perform.

For those of us who attend church, this same deep-seated need, can give rise to religious performance! We can present ourselves as a thoroughly ‘good’ Christian. For some this may be about dressing up smart and putting in an appearance at a church service. For others, it might actually be about sacrificially giving up our time to serve others, run groups and activities. Performing for others can easily be mistaken for loving others.

Jesus once said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’.

After performing for others at school, university, on social media, in the work place, our neighbourhood, even in our family and possibly our church, Jesus says, ‘Come to me, and I will give you rest’. So often we can think that Christianity is really just another set of demands. Come and live this way – more performance requirements.

However, if we listen carefully to Jesus, we will hear him explain that our drive to perform is primarily a drive to cover our sense of guilt and shame. Think about it – why don’t we present ourselves as we really are? We present and perform to be accepted, thought well of, because if people saw everything, if all was laid bare, we fear we wouldn't be liked. Being truly and fully known is something that drives us into hiding. But if hiding and pretending is exhausting you, then there is good news.

Jesus says, ‘I know you perfectly, I paid for your guilt on the cross, so come to me, your shame can be removed. I can give you rest, both now and forever’. Jesus knows each of us perfectly, he knows how we have really lived, he knows who we really are, he sees through our pretence. Our guilt brings rightful condemnation from a holy God, but his love for us provides a Saviour, who reaches out to us. He says, 'Come to me...and I will give you rest'.

Chris Smith, 05/09/2017

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Growing as a christian 

After reading the VERY helpful ‘Serving without sinking’ I have now made a start on the next title by John Hindley.

One of the things I like most about John’s writing is its down to earth nature. He says what I so often think and feel. I like his honesty! I’m often surprised by our desire (me included) to put on a good Christian face, to appear as if all is well, when in fact, inside we are fallen, struggling, forgiven sinners. Our honesty often results in God’s grace being magnified whilst our self righteous projections, usually result in less praise to God for his kindness in loving us.

I’ve enjoyed the start of the book and alongside the honesty and desire to see God glorified, there are also some great illustrations of spiritual truths.

“Sometimes, Daisy, my daughter, asks me to help her get a toy from the top of her toy cupboard. Now [imagine] I ask her if she would like to do a puzzle with me, and I receive a lovely: “Yes please!” in reply. So I pick Daisy up, and as I do so, she strains towards the top to reach the puzzle. She puts every effort her little body can manage into grabbing it because she really wants the puzzle. And she will reach the puzzle. But she will reach it because I lift her. I could have just got the puzzle down for her. I could have lifted her high enough so that she didn’t need to lift her arms at all. I could have done all the work for her, but instead I involved her, and this increased her enjoyment. Did Daisy reach the puzzle? Yes. Did I reach the puzzle? Yes. I lifted; she reached. She needed me to lift her. I didn’t need her to reach. But we did it together. This is how God grows us.”

If anyone else is reading it, or fancies grabbing a copy and reading along too, do make comments below and I would be interested to see what you think.
To think some more about what Christian Growth looks like, do join us on a Sunday morning as we see what the Apostle John has to say in the little New Testament letter, 1 John.

Chris Smith, 19/02/2016

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a free gift

It's very easy to make the assumption that being a Christian simply means clocking in regularly (or occasionally) at the local church. Add to this a general keenness to live a good life - be kind to those in need, try not to swear, drink too much, love your neighbour etc. It may come as a surprise to hear me say that you can do all of those things and not be a Christian! The religious elite of Jesus' day (and perhaps our own) do 'religious acts' in abundance but were far from knowing God. It is an important question to ask ourselves - do I know religion or do I know God? A question that might help us get to an accurate answer is, why do I do the things I do? Why do I go to church? Why do I try to love others and serve them?

 A few months back we were fortunate enough to be put on the guest list for a concert at the O2 Arena in London. It was an amazing night, we had fantastic seats, right by the stage reserved for family and friends of the band members. After the concert we were invited to come backstage to the after show party and from there we were invited into a small room that many famous bands had relaxed in post-show in the past. There we met the band, chatted and took pictures! Incredibly all of this was free, at no cost to us, it was through the generosity of a friend, the partner of a band member. Now let's hit the rewind button and return to 7pm and our arrival at the O2. What would have happened if we had gone to buy our own tickets at the box office? "Sorry guys, the show is sold out!" But, what if I paraded our T-Shirts and commitment to the band? What if I mention the previous concerts we had attended? Unfortunately, we could do nothing to gain access. How foolish we would be, especially trying to get in ourselves, when the way in was provided free and open to us.

A Christian is someone who recognises that relationship with God is not something we can earn or deserve or pay for with good deeds. The truth is Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He paid the price of entry into relationship with God - his life for our waywardness. Entry is in fact free and the ticket is there for us to collect.

We will only collect it when we realise we need his forgiveness, that we haven't been walking with God as King. We will only come to him when we are amazed at what he has done for us, dying in our place. We will only come when we are willing to trust him and make him our Lord. 

Once he is made Lord of our lives, we are forgiven and reconciled to God. At the point we will get involved in a local church, not to earn brownie points, but because we want to encourage others, learn more about Jesus and grow in our faith. We will try to love others, because we want to be like our Lord and Saviour, not because we need to gain his favour. For then, God's incredible love for us will begin to truly take root in us!

Chris Smith, 05/10/2015

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CCR, 01/02/2012