J John started right in with the worm/talking parrot joke, to remind us to “Remember that the main thing is to ensure that the main thing is the main thing!”
9 Weeks Gone The video spun us through the previous 9 weeks, with Week 1 reminding us not to covet “most people want just a bit more than they already have”, and questioning, what’s the Number 1 for you now – food, drink, sport… or God?
We saw a brief extract from The Winchester Passion, in which Israel Oyelumade played Jesus, before Claire Carson interviewed him. What did he truly remember from playing Jesus in the Passion?
The size of the audience – it was HUGE!
How to make the message relevant?
How to get under the skin of this man, Jesus? As an actor one tries to understand the heartbeat of the character you’re playing, as a Christian, God had already been working on Israel’s heartbeat!
As an actor, the profession is all about “self”, but when he met David Oyelowo, here he met a man full of self-assurance, and not from the labels he was wearing, but from ensuring that others were OK, which came from somewhere! Israel was asked by 3 people in a week to Holy Trinity Brompton, told “God wants you for himself”, but ignored this invitation until he re-met David at the Royal Shakespeare Company, when he decided “me and God are for keeps”! His priorities shifted, re-centering on God daily. Instead of looking at himself, he started looking at who around could be helped – and is always happiest when talking about eternal priorities!
J John: Is God Your No. 1?
Tonight, we’re looking at Exodus 20:3: have no other God’s before me!
God is God and He’s Not Applying for the Job…
he’s not going to play second fiddle to anyone or anything!
Here comes the analogy….
Your life is like a car…. so is Jesus:
Nowhere near your car?
In the car, but locked in the boot for Sundays, where you stuff him back in for the rest of the week, in case he upsets your ordinary life?
In the car, but a back-seat passenger who you don’t pay much attention to?
In the car, but a front-seat passenger, so he’s a bit more in your vision, but still…
Or is he the driver in your car….
More importantly, if he is driving your car, are you a backseat driver?
As Jesus drives down the “road of forgiveness” are you complaining that you don’t want to go this way?
As Jesus points the way at a fork in the road, are you complaining “where are you going?”
Knowing that God is First: What are the indicators?
How do we know that God is first in our lives. Here’s a useful acronym which we’ll expand on…
God is always around, but we’re often so pre-occupied by other things we don’t see him.
Is he first in your FINANCES?
If you have a bag of 10 doughnuts, do you need all 10 doughnuts, or can you give some of it away?! You can’t take it with you when you die, so invest in sending some on ahead – invest in others!!
Is he first in your INTERESTS?
What occupies/pre-occupies you daily? You CAN be interested in other things, as there is sacred-ness in the world (God created it after all!)
Why is a football supporter known as a “fan”?
Why is a Christian known as a “fanatic”? Take it as a compliment!
Is knowing God the heartbeat of your life?
Is he first in your RELATIONSHIPS?
We need to embrace the qualities of Jesus in each other. J John referred to “My Shack, Your Shed and a Bungalow” (at least I think that’s what he said!) in reference to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would rather be thrown into a furnace than worship a false god, a real challenge to us when we are called (daily!) to compromise!
The challenge is to obey God, regardless of what other people may think of you, and the consequences. Begins by stepping outside of your comfort zone…
Is God first in your SCHEDULE?
God knows that we have other responsibilities – are you conscious of God in that, rather than praying to Him as a last resort?! We should be constantly aware, tuning in, irrespective of what you are doing and where you are going!
Do you start your day with God. IF he is alive, and if he is the creator of the world – would you not WANT to know him… even athiest professors said yes when asked this question! (“The more intelligent people are, the more stupid they are”!!)
Is God first in your TROUBLES?
There’s 2 kinds of troubles:
Minor suffering, that’s what you suffer from!
Major suffering, that’s what I suffer from!
When we are troubled, who do we turn to? When it’s dark, that’s when you can see the stars! We all go through seasons of life, when it’s dark, we then see the morning star = Jesus.
How did you answer that, is God FIRST?
The answers to these questions indicate the kind of relationship you have with God – is he in the driving seat, and are you still a backseat driver?
A House Visit?
If Jesus came to spend a day or so at your house, how would you feel?
Would your welcome be sincere?
Would you hide some of the magazines you’d been reading and put a Bible there?
Would you bury some things in the deepest darkest cupboard, or is it all there for Him to see?
These are the things on which you mind and spirit feed. If Jesus is already in there, he already knows [and he already loves you as you are!]
We are called to LOVE God with ALL our heart, soul and mind… we are looking to see EVERYTHING from his viewpoint: thought, word, deed, business, pleasure, friendships, career, home, etc… He should be in all of them, not a compartmentalised “Sunday God”.
In choosing Christ, you are always making a choice whic
h excludes all others. By turning away from other gods [in whatever form they come] you can actually HAVE GOD!
Who is Jesus to You?
General William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. Toward the end of his career, he was interviewed by the press. As he looked back over his lifetime, this is what he said: “God had all there was of me. There have been others who had greater plans and greater opportunities than I; but from the day I had a vision of what God could do, I made up my mind that God would have all there was of William Booth.” Thanks
Every week we’ve been finishing with my favourite hymn Amazing Grace!
Want to Know More?
All the partner churches would be pleased to hear from you, and J John is back in Winchester for a one-off event on 17th September as part of a national tour.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster(Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.