My final letter in the final St Luke’s Magazine

Last week I was given a copy of the final parish magazine from my old church, St Luke’s, which coincided with my move to West Bromwich. This is what I wrote from the “curatage”.

I’ve been a Christian for over 15 years. In October 1993 I heard about the cross where Jesus died and I had a deep sense of my own wickedness yet an overwhelming sense of God’s love for me because Jesus Christ had died for my sins. This conversion gave me a new tender conscience and love for people, something I had not experienced since my early teens.

I have noticed over the years that my conscience is changeable. Sometimes it hardens, not as hard as rock, but like bread left out on the worktop. At other times my conscience is tender and is easily pricked like a tomato skin with a sharp knife. A tender conscience can be painful as it produces guilt, and guilt is like cement mixed in sand and water, it turns soft hearts to stone.

My conscience is tender today as I look back over the last three and a half years in St Luke’s. I have loved being here and love our church family and yet I feel a twinge of guilt for things I have done which I wish I hadn’t and for things I could have done but didn’t.

I remember leaving our church in the Far East nine years ago as we moved country again. At my leaving party I said, “Never lose sight of the cross. Whenever you preach or teach how a Christian should live, about the high expectations of God on believers, consciences will be pricked. So never lose sight of the cross.” I am afraid that at times I have spoken about the high expectations of God during my time at St Luke’s without mentioning the cross.

When I arrived in Wolverhampton I had forgotten my own message. I had a view of the Christian life which began with Christ and ended with Christ but the middle bit was all about me and my walk with God. I knew Jesus had died for my sin and I knew he waited for me in glory, but the cross had lost its significance for me today. I was going on in my own strength without the deep joy of the cross and I know this must have shown in my preaching. But God is good and it was during 2006 that the cross came back into sharp focus for me. I realised that by faith in Christ on the cross I am righteous, pure and holy before God today.

And so, I remember the good times at St Luke’s. The positive times like the Pure Joy Week and the people who have been established and grown in their faith in Christ. I have been pleased to take many funerals where God’s word has comforted and healed in power. It’s been great to see Growth Groups grow, I hope this continues as Richard trains more leaders. Perhaps, most importantly to me, has been passing on faith in Christ to our Pathfinders and The Next Generation. I love our young people. As, I said, there are many foolish things I’ve done, things done badly and these things prick my conscience. Yet, my joy is complete and my conscience is clear before God because of Christ my righteousness.

As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.“

And so, dear brothers and sisters at St Luke’s, never lose sight of the cross, it is the power of God for all who are being saved.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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