Winter 2021

Pastoral Moment

Dear RUC,

The Van Lieshouts

Our family just got back from some holiday time (and refuge from the cold) at the coast. We had a great time of rest after a pretty busy year so far!

Speaking of which, we have a few weeks left in our series through 1 Timothy: ‘God’s Household’. As we’ve journeyed through the book (and through some complex and difficult material!) I’ve been asked a few times about why I chose to do this book at this time.

There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, we started the year with a very topical and practical sermon series called ‘Rule of Life’. It seemed appropriate to follow that with a more rigorous series through a portion of scripture.

As to choosing 1 Timothy? Last year was a time of significant ‘organisational’ change for our Church, including staff, leadership, constitution etc. Some of those issues actually come up in 1 Timothy, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect and remind ourselves of some of these things.

Mostly, however, I felt that this year we needed to concentrate our attention on one of our core values as a Church: the primacy of Scripture.

What better way to highlight that value than by going deep into the study of a book of the Bible! The complexity of 1 Timothy would also force us to find ways to meaningfully engage with the Bible.

We therefore added ways that you could engage with Scripture in this series, including:

Choosing 1 Timothy also allowed us to engage with the controversial topic of the role of men & women in the Church. This is something highly contextual, that needed to be engaged, and by addressing it through the letter it allowed the subject to come up naturally in the context of the Gospel of Jesus, and the community of the Church.

On that note however, I must confess that apart from addressing the specific issue, I had high hopes of making progress on another huge goal for us as a Church. This is a goal linked to the same core value, that we have to work very hard towards in the future.

It’s the goal of being able to find a way to engage meaningfully with controversial contemporary topics, in a biblically rigorous, yet sensitive, and therefore hopefully winsome way!

Christianity is on a serious collision course with contemporary society in ways that are likely to be highly controversial. We are going to have to deal with sexuality, politics (local & global), family life and ethics with a rock-solid grounding in the Scriptures, but in a way that is winsome for the cause of Christ.

I believe these sorts of issues cannot be adequately handled in short-format, social media, placard-type communication (nor just a one-off Sunday sermon!) We need to diligently and thoughtfully apply ourselves to the Scriptures on these issues! This is why we started the Bibleo forum, as a means of giving comprehensive attention to a particular Biblical subject.

The ‘household of God’ at RUC has a post of responsibility when it comes to this:

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

Hopefully the manner in which we’ve dealt with 1 Timothy has made progress towards this goal!

We have a few weeks left (and a few more challenging topics!) before the grand finale of the series:Fight the Good Fight of the Faith’ (1 Timothy 6:11-16). Stay engaged with us as we head to the end of this journey!

Fighting with you in Faith,

Richard