So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory…
2 Peter 1: 12-13 (NIV)
A while ago now, I was speaking at the church that we used to attend in our village.
One of the people I trust most in all the world had come to hear me. After the service had finished, and over lunch, she told me how she thought it had gone. She was characteristically and generously blunt…”The thing is”, she said, smiling, “these folk have been Christians a long time…they’ve been round the block a few times. You spoke well, but you’re telling them stuff that they already know”…
Much more recently I had been asked to lead worship on a retreat day for a local church. At the eleventh hour their speaker was unable to come, so I ended up being asked to do the opening talk on John 13: 34-35:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
A very familiar passage, and I knew that there are a few people in this church who have also “been round the block a few times”. My friends kind yet softly firm voice echoed in my ears!
Then I became aware of a softer, but no less insistent voice…”What if they need reminding?”
So, in the end, I did just that, and tried to remind them about the things they may have forgotten, or that have just become so familiar that the power of the words has been overlooked.
So, with due deference to my trusted friend, sometimes even we Christians who’ve been round the block a few times need reminding…because we forget!
Back in the 70s I read a few books by an Argentinian pastor called Juan Carlos Ortis, who came highly recommended by the minister of the Baptist church in Whitstable that I belonged to at the time. One of the things I remember is a story about what happened when he started work at a new church.
For the first few weeks he preached the same sermon on the same Bible passage every week. At first people were puzzled. Then frustrated.
Eventually, a deputation went to see him.
“Pastor”, they asked, when are you going to preach a different sermon…or maybe you only have the one? ”
“I’ve got plenty”, he replied.” I’ll preach another when we’ve learned the lesson of this one, and start actually doing what it says! ”
It seems that it’s a good thing to be reminded about the things Jesus said, not just because we forget, but because sometimes we’re too lazy/frightened/disobedient/uncaring…you choose, add any word that’s appropriate to you…to actually do the things he asked us to do.
Forgetfulness or unwillingness…good reasons to continue to rehearse all the things Jesus said and did, in the hope that, little by little and with his help, we’ll stop just ‘believing’ the right things and actually start doing them. We might even begin to resemble the one who said and did them in the first place.