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The Word - October 2011 - Following the Master by Rob James

Maybe it’s time for all of us to take another look at Jesus, says ROB JAMES

I've mentioned before that I have listened to the radio for as long as I remember, but since I became a member of the ‘iPod Generation’ 
I have been able to listen to whatever I want, whenever, and wherever, I choose.

I particularly enjoy listening to Matthew Parris’ Great Lives because I never know the kind of intriguing facts I’ll discover about the rich and famous. Whoever would have guessed, for example, that Winston Churchill’s one regret was that his dad never saw just how much he achieved in life?

Some time ago I found myself listening to an edition that focused on Gerry Robinson’s choice of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. Robinson, a highly successful businessman, told Parris that initially he loathed his work, thinking it all “pretentious nonsense”. But, some years later, when his daughter was in drama school, he took a fresh look at Beckett’s material and now sees him in a totally different light.

It made me wish that lots of people would take a ‘fresh look’ at Jesus and all he has to offer.

He can help us when the going gets tough, for example. I see evidence of this all the time. Just a few weeks ago an oil industry executive told me that he was aware that “someone is helping him”. This was no flippant comment, given the fact that he is coping with the consequences of a recent explosion at his refinery.

Jesus also offers those who have messed up the opportunity of a new start. ‘Jane’ (not her real name) knows that. Jane told us her story when she turned up in church one Sunday morning last year. She had been abused to the point where she had ended up selling her body at night and filling it with Class A drugs throughout the day.

But thankfully, she (reluctantly) accepted the offer of a place in a Christian drug rehabilitation centre. While she was there she discovered that God not only loved her, she came to see that he could also help her kick her destructive habit. Jane is a completely transformed young lady now.

And there’s a word of comfort for people like Milly Dowler’s parents too. I couldn’t help thinking that as I watched them sharing their sense of injustice on TV some time ago. Life can be very unfair, but the Bible assures us that no one will ‘get away with it in the end’. The bills will have to be paid one day.

Faith does not insulate us from pain. It does not guarantee that we will have all the answers. But it is very relevant, and can prove life-changing, which is why lots of people would benefit from “doing a Gerry Robinson” and taking a fresh look at Jesus.

But that has major implications for all of us who claim to be his disciples. If people are going to be attracted to Jesus they need to see the evidence of his work in our lives. And that means we should be living his way.

We tend to forget the fact that the term Christian is only used on three occasions in the New Testament, whereas the term ‘The Way’ seems to have been one of the oldest descriptions of the Church. It does me good to remember that because it reminds us that we are supposed to be apprentices who are learning to imitate their Master’s way – the way of selfless love, especially for those who do not yet know him.

As someone wisely observed: “The ball’s in our court now”.


John 20:10-23 Acts 9:1-5


Heavenly Father, we want to thank you for showing us just how much you love us. Help us to imitate your Son’s way of life that many will discover the reality of eternal life.

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