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Seeds of the Kingdom

Take Courage

by John Berry

22 September 2008

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But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid’.
Matthew 14: 27, NIV

After many years as a pastor, my new role in Ellel Ministries includes the task of being ‘Health and Safety Officer’. I now find myself thinking about such matters as ‘protective clothing’, ‘manual handling’ and ‘risk assessments’, and this is all very new terminology to me.

It has set me wondering whether some of the encounters with Jesus in the Bible would ever have happened had they had ‘Health and Safety Officers’?! Imagine the scene. Peter is about to get out of the boat in response to the call of the Master. Freeze everything! Has a risk assessment been written for this? Is there a hazard involved? What control measure is Jesus going to put in place to ensure that the risk doesn’t become a crisis? I can hear the disciples mutter ‘better not do it, Peter. Somebody might get hurt and it will probably be you’. Peter then has a dilemma. ‘Do I respond to Jesus’ call and take the risk, or play it safe and stay in the boat? Yet surely that’s also a risky thing to do!

The story of the healing of the paralytic coming through the roof would never have happened. No way would the ‘Health and Safety Department of the Capernaum Council’ have allowed the roof to be broken through with people underneath. The four friends would have had to wear protective clothing - goggles, hard hats, gloves, and steel toe capped shoes. The man would probably have been advised to make an appointment to see Jesus at the local clinic in a month’s time.

The big problem is that meeting with Jesus is always a risky business. Faith is sometimes spelt R I S K. We take a risk when we commit to Jesus, when we ‘step out in faith’, when we pray, when we stand up and are counted for Christ. In the UK we are rarely physically at risk for our faith, but in many lands that’s not so. My personal risk assessment of being a follower of Jesus is that there is potentially a high risk, but I will knowingly take that risk every day. The Apostle Paul said ‘for Christ’s sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties’. Our health and safety in Christ depends on us trusting the Lord in all circumstances, no matter how unsafe it appears. I wonder what Jesus’ assessment of our faith is today?

Prayer: Thank you Lord that when you ask us to do something it is always the right thing to do - even if it seems risky! Give me the courage to always listen to your voice and follow you at all times. In Jesus' name. Amen

John Berry entered the Baptist Ministry more than 40 years ago, and joined the Team at Ellel Glyndley Manor in 2007 with his wife Jennie. They have both now retired from the team but remain as part of the Teaching and Associate Ministry Teams at Glyndley. John and Jennie have seven Grandchildren.


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