I have been thinking and praying a lot recently about motivations. What motivates me to preach every Sunday? Or perhaps that should be who motivates me? The Church of Scotland like any institution is full of rules and procedures, and whether we agree with them or not we have them because the human condition demands it. Society is full of rules and laws, etiquette and social norms. Boundaries that are either known for definite or are affectionately known as the unwritten rule. The Church of Scotland even has rules regarding Sunday morning worship and you must report it if your service doesn’t go ahead!

There is a real danger that our life of faith is motivated by an institution and not by God. Not that the institution is important but when we bow to the institution and not God we are in trouble. Sometimes we are so caught up maintaining the institution we lose sight of God.

One church I like in the States has as it’s tag line We love. We make disciples. This morning it dawned on me what that meant. Yesterday in church we spoke about the great commandment in the all age message and used the great commission for call to worship and asked the question by whose authority do we do things?

If you like rules, written or unwritten, here are the only ones I think we need:
Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength;
love each other,
Love yourself

Everything else will flow from here – whether it is making disciples, setting up missional communities, healing conflict, bringing justice and peace, and so on. If these elements are not flowing from us as individuals and churches then we need to go back to the love equation and reevaluate.

No wonder Jesus called it the Greatest Commandment!

Ask yourself how do you fulfil the greatest commandment? Love for God and his people motivates me to preach again and again and more. Love keeps me rooted in a broken presbytery (it is no secret we have issued). Love is so powerful. Read 1 Corinthians 13 again.

And if that sounds too soppy for you tell God:
We love because God loved us first.

For God so loved the world he sent his one and only Son that whosoever believes on him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Love never ends!

Perhaps we need to ask as individuals and as institutions the question put so beautifully by the black eyed peas – where is the love?

For we forget at our peril the church is meant to be the bride of Christ and is not the ultimate image of love?

God loves you, me and his Church.
Let’s love Him back and change the world…
God bless
Love Sarah

The Tandem Bike Ride

Below is a parable which likens the Christian life to a ride on a tandem bicycle.  Is God on your bike, and if He is, does He have the front or back seat?  I really identify with this parable and feel that God is sitting in the front of my bike – a scary yet wonderful predicament.   

As a child, I loved bikes.  From the beginning I enjoyed the races.  But how does a little girl win the right to join the biggest race of all?  At first I saw God as a judge who would determine whether I was good enough to enter the race and if my efforts merited a prize.  I was quite sure I would recognise God if I saw Him, but I didn’t know Him that well.  Later, I recognised He was the coach who had taught others how to ride.  He explained that life was like a bike ride.  He made me see that life was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back seat helping me pedal.  Man, this was great!  I could control the bike, but He gave me the power to really move!  One day I took the corner too fast and powerslided on the gravel, crashing painfully.  That was when He suggested that we change places.  The race has never been the same since.  With God providing the power and the steering, the race of life is very exciting!  When I had the controls, I knew the course I would take.  The race was sort of boring and predictable.  I always took what seemed to be the shortest distance to the finish line.  But, when God took the handle bars, He knew the long cuts, up over the mountains and down into deep valleys.  I would have never ventured in these paths, let alone at break neck speeds!  Sometimes it was all I could do to hang on.  Even though God provided all the power needed, He still said that I should pedal.  I became worried and anxious and asked, “where are you taking me?”  He laughed and didn’t answer.  I had no choice to but to trust because you can’t get off a moving bike.  Very soon, I forgot my boring life apart from the tandem bike.  Even when I was scared there was a thrill about this ride and I was calmed when He reached back to touch my hand.  God took us racing through our homeland where people I had never met gave us gifts for the way.  What great joy to have them share a cool drink when we paused to rest.  Then we were off again.  He said, “give the gifts away because they weigh too much and will slow us down.” So I did, and as we travelled through foreign lands we taught and fed hungry children.  For some reason, each time we gave away a heavy parcel, we received back more than we gave, but the burden on our bike still grew lighter and lighter.  I did not trust Him at first because I was sure that if He controlled the bike, He would wreck it.  But, you know, I found that He not only provided power and direction to the journey, He also provided special ability to race, because He built the bike.  He knew exactly how much to lean into a curve and how to jump over high rocks.  At times, He made the bike just fly.  And I am learning to just trust and pedal through the strangest places.  I am beginning to enjoy the view, the cool breeze on my face, and my delightful constant companion.  It’s like I love my companion more than I do the bike or the race.  And on those days when I think that I cannot keep riding any more, He just smiles and says…”Just trust me and pedal!”  (Anonymous author with Sarah Ross edits)