It’s been a good first day at the Methodist Conference in Southport. The highlight was seeing Rev Steve Wild commissioned as the new President for the year and to hear his impassioned plea for the Church to rediscover and take seriously the work of evangelism.
Today’s reflection from “Light the fire again” highlights, more than ever the need for this work – for people to encounter and to come to know the saving love of God. It speaks into a time when at the birth of the Methodist movement the country was in moral disarray. This is how it is put:
“Alcohol and gambling were the popular pastimes of this time. Gin drinking had reached almost epidemic proportions and violent crime had become so bad and hangings so frequent that “Dr Johnson ironically expressed his fear that the navy might run short of ropes.”
The low moral standards had resulted from a prevalent indifference to the Christian faitH. Thomas Secker, the Bishop of Oxford, said, “an open and professed disregard of religion is become, through a variety of unhappy causes, the distinguishing character of the age.”
We don’t have to look too far to see that we live in a world that, in many ways, has many parallel problems; we just give them different names and find new tools to scratch the same old itches. Social disorder, moral decline and disinterest in religion are all problems that we can recognise in the world about us.
More than ever our communities need to be introduced to the saving love of God; to know that it is possible to make a new start; that there is a reason for living; that Christ died on the cross for us and that there is a better way.
As we deliberate this summer over Netley, I hope we will return to some extent to where we began – with a vision of a church that will impact the local community and in which people are brought to faith and to a knowledge of the love of God who would not otherwise have known Him.
So, today – please pray that God will help us to understand how He wants us to make Him known; that He may use us as His instruments to transform lives and bring the light of Christ to the community.
Psalm 12:1 “Help, Lord, for the Godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.”