Follow Jesus or risk ‘death by church’
The Rev. Dr John Hirt, minister at Leichhardt University Church, used the Synod’s second Bible study to encourage Uniting Church members and leaders to reflect on commitment, faithful following of Jesus and being a church of passionate disciples.
He used the Gospel of Mark including 1:15-20 and 2-14 to examine the theme of “New and Risky Paths” and the notion of a Jesus in motion which Christians are called to follow.
“That is what the church is about: people on a journey: on new and risky paths,” he said, and continued, “If the people of God want to know what they should do they first need to know who they are.”
He examined the three parts of Mark’s call narrative: a sense of immediacy, an unconditional call and unqualified obedience.
“Jesus calls us unconditionally to follow him — no ifs or buts,” he said.
Dr Hirt encouraged those in attendance, inspired by Mark’s radical discipleship, to ask themselves whether the church had lost its nerve.
“Do we hide behind rules and regulations? Or do we follow Jesus?
“Maybe as preachers, leaders and church members we need to be converted to the world and the Word again.”
He warned of the danger of “death by church” if the word of God did not burn in people’s hearts, words and actions.
“If we can’t say at any stage that we are sinners saved by grace then we are in big trouble.”