June 2011

“Engage Smug Mode” Kryten is a mechanoid servant with very human characteristics in the comedy ‘Red Dwarf’When he was proved right – invariably – he would walk off with a huge smirk after ‘engaging smug mode’.I felt like joining him.We have some roll-up banners at church and one of them separated from the cartridge into which it was supposed to roll.I phoned the suppliers only to be told that ‘no one at the company had ever managed to resurrect the cartridge’ so if I sent back the banner, they would supply a new cartridge at £60 plus postage; our cartridge was to be binned!

‘No one…ever’ – it’s just too much of a challenge!As a small boy, I took my father’s stapler apart, hid the pieces while I tried to work out how to reassemble it, ignored my brothers’ grins as they waited for me to ‘cop it’, and successfully reassembled the stapler.My father was an engineer, and so is one of my sons. Curiosity runs in the blood.I disassembled the cartridge, and found that the banner had parted from the mechanism because some sticky tape had failed.Reattaching it with carpet tape was easy -until I discovered it needed to be the opposite way round!

Starting again, I successfully wound the banner the right way home, but the banner now had to be pulled into the case by a roller blind mechanism.My first attempt simply unrolled in the case – wound the wrong way!The second attempt had me rolling the banner by thumb pressure against the roller spring through a small gap – I could only tension it sufficiently to draw half the banner into the case.I took a long time to think through the problem, and in the end, I had to release the hard earned tension, open the case and start all over again.Only the carpet tape was right.I disengaged the banner, attached some cord to the roller blind mechanism, wound 3m of cord around it, reassembled the case, and gently pulled the cord out until the mechanism was tensioned, attached the banner – and success!“Engage Smug Mode!”Who said no one ever resurrected!Curiosity triumphed.

We conducted a doorstep survey during our ‘Going Further’ event, and 106 people kindly helped with the survey.The results were very interesting. 40% believed God was personal, only 13% that he didn’t exist.Only 17% thought death was the end with nothing following, the rest believing in some form of afterlife or not sure.40% believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and a further 22% that he was a prophet or messenger from God.The ‘one question you would want to put to God or a believer’ – 15% wanted to know why God made them or the world (purpose), and 57% wanted to know why there was so much suffering.Finally, ‘if you could know God personally, have a relationship with him, would you be interested?’ 50% ‘yes’, and 25% not sure, only 11% would say ‘no’!

We’re very grateful to all those who answered the questions; no doubt the 132 who declined to take part would have changed some of the responses, but it was very encouraging.Still, I am left wondering… if I was prepared to spend 5-6 hours dismantling and reassembling a roll-up banner until I understood it and was able to make it work again out of sheer curiosity and persistence… wouldn’t you want to invest some time in discovering the truth about God, life after death, Jesus, and a personal relationship with him?If you’ve come to a settled conclusion that he doesn’t exist or isn’t interested, so be it, but if you share with our respondents a sneaking feeling that God is personal, that he has a post-death future waiting for us, that Jesus in some way speaks uniquely for him, and that he’s waiting to relate to you, personally, then – well, wouldn’t you want to invest a few hours in answering these questions?

If there’s even a slim chance that you might be missing out on peace and hope, a certain future beyond death and a purpose before death, then wouldn’t natural curiosity drive you in persistence until you knew one way or another?Can there be any question more important in life?Ponder carefully – for a small investment of time, you may be on the brink of finding better and more lasting treasure than anyone with a metal detector.Because we believe we’ve found some answers.You might even answer the favourite question about suffering on the way.As a church, we’d be delighted to help you find some answers for yourself – just bring your questions and curiosity!For Jesus said “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (The Bible, Luke 11.9)

Praying that you might bring your questions to him, and seeking, might find hope, purpose, peace and joy in Christ Jesus.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,