“I want what you have got!” One of the most powerful forms of testimony to our world – they see how we live our lives and hunger for what we have – Jesus Christ.
How often have we heard that said to us, to our church, our organisation, our college?
The power of our proclamation is tested by this question and we will be found wanting when the essence of the Gospel is not lived out in the world. The sad reality is this question is rarely being asked of Christians today. Very few are being asked why they live the way they do because there is little difference or distinctiveness from the rest of the world in our life style, our choices and our priorities.
1 Peter 3:15 says “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this in gentleness and respect.”
In this text Peter is making an assumption that we will be asked about the way we live and the reason for it, as it will be so contrary to the world around us. If we are not being asked what motivates and makes us so different, we need to challenge ourselves by considering if we have lost the visible lifestyle that gave those early Christians such a powerful and compelling authority in and through their proclamation?
When our lives do not match the Gospel the power of the statement “Jesus is Lord” becomes an empty cliché. To cover up our embarrassment we turn to “professional” sales techniques thinking that glossy leaflets, impressive mission statements, modern technology and self-righteous judgements / separations from specific (often one off) behaviours will promote a form of “holiness”. Revelation 3:1bf says “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive but you are dead. Wake up!”
We need a revolution to regain the full meaning of our conversion, recognising the powerful consequences of living out the Gospel (the social and sacrificial consequences of love in action). The cross of Jesus Christ convicts and convinces us that the way ahead needs to be a radical lifestyle demonstrating that the Kingdom of God is here now.
The Arab Spring / Arab Awakening we are currently witnessing started as a protest against police corruption and ill treatment of the poor. It spoke to thousands of people who hunger for freedom and something different. The protestors risk everything as they demonstrate for change. Many are following this step and joining.
As we draw to the end of 2011 and prepare to celebrate the incarnation – the coming of God amongst us, modelling how we are to live; we call one another to a revolution to no longer accept mediocrity in how we live out our lives. Choose to be as radical as Jesus, let your life demonstrate this so that this Christmas your family, your community, your colleagues will ask, we want what you have got? The greatest gift we can give this Christmas is lives living the out the Gospel to one another.
Reflect together what this will look like in your context, in your church, in your mission/ aid organisation, in your college and make the choice!
Iran An older Christian Iranian woman imprisoned for her faith found herself in what was a threatening and harsh condition. Timid as she was, she chose to stay true to God and soon had other prisoners asking what she was in for. As she answered truthfully she shared her faith we those around. Today 68 prisoners have given their lives to God. One of the prison guards who interrogated her has also become a Christian. (Testimony given this week).
Iranians are turning to Christ – they are seeing the radical lives Christians are living amongst them.
Let’s pray for:
For the courage and witness of Iranian Christians to stand under persecution.
For those who would celebrate Christmas knowing that in so doing they may draw attention to themselves and be arrested.
For Farsi Scriptures to reach both Christians and non-Christians so they may be encouraged and challenged.
Egypt Elections took place this week amongst increased violence and protests on the streets as many Egyptians are sceptical that the military rulers will hand over power in a democratic way. Some have rightly compared the removal of Mubarak as the breaking away of a tooth, the current military leadership representing the roots of that regime still in place. It should be noted that the military class enjoy significant wealth and prestige, owning or controlling much of the key tourist resorts, influencing much of everyday life. There is fear that this “root” still in place will hold Egypt back in its quest for freedom and democracy.
On the 7th to 8th February 2012 an Egypt summit will be held in Washington DC. Pray for this gathering to be supportive and helpful for the Church in Egypt (for more information contact [email protected].)
For local church leaders and pastors to be more involved in the process of reformation.
For church leaders and pastors to encourage their congregations and the people they serve to be actively involved in the society and hold their social and political responsibilities
For the Egyptian Christian leaders and pastors to find creative ways of magnifying the impact of the church through practical means of serving their community
For wisdom and discernment as Christians start networking with other social and religious organisations which are known with their moderate and liberal position to deepen the concept of citizen ship and civil society.
Reports are coming out of North Sudan that since the establishment of South Sudan as a separate country a wave of Islamic fundamentalism in North is occurring to “purge” the North of Christians. This is particularly being felt on the borders (South Kordofan).
Let’s pray for:
A resolution of the volatile relationship between Sudan and South Sudan
For protection of Christians caught up in this instability, that they may be able to demonstrate God’s love and character to their neighbours.
For Christian leaders to seek God for wisdom and discernment as they guide their congregations through this time.
Note: Micah Network is planning to facilitate an integral mission conversation in South Sudan. Please pray for our plans and contacts so that this will be a time of encouragement, challenge and transformation.
Prayer Points in Brief
1. International Financial Crisis: fear increases as the media runs with stories of the Eurozone about to collapse, increase debt and implications for those dependent on aid. Pray for the prophetic voice of the church to speak out at this time. Pray to that Christians would increase their generosity and trust God to multiply!
2. UMN (United Missions to Nepal): An explosion took place close the UMN offices in Nepal last month. On-going prayer is encouraged for organisations operating in contexts where there continue to be groups who are militantly anti-Christian. It would be good also to pray for our network members in even more challenging contexts such as India and Afghanistan.
3. Lepers Act – Bangladesh: Praise God for the bill passed last month that repealed the law that had been in place since 1898 that segregated leprosy patients from society and their families. Leper asylums will now be allowed to turn into hospitals with patients having their freedoms returned. Well done to all who through faith and persistence advocated for this change.
4. Ethiopia: continue to pray for the famine crisis affecting thousands in Ethiopia
As we draw to the end of 2011 we are still faced with tough financial limitations. Only 17% of our members have sent in their 2011 contributions this year. We are about to send out our final reminder for 2011 and the 2012 member contribution invitation.
Please pray that:
Members would engage and respond to mailings sent out
Micah Network will be able close 2011 and enter 2012 with sufficient resource to cover our commitments.