6th August 2020
During August, we will be having some guest posts on the blog page. This week, we hear from Charles Kimbangi, who leads our Beckenham site.
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim 4:16, ESV)
During the past few months, I have been ‘keeping a close watch’ on... my garden! I am by no means a ‘gardener’. Gardening to me extends to having a perfectly mowed lawn and having a few plants growing in pots. But each morning, I have found myself looking over the garden and ‘keeping a close watch’ on how the lawn is doing and how our rhododendron is growing, giving it a bit of care and attention when needed!
Reflecting on Paul’s words to Timothy and my keen interest in my garden, I’ve developed a better understanding of what Paul was getting at. During this pandemic, I’ve had to ‘keep a close watch’ on myself. This has meant spending time with God in prayer, Bible study and meditation, asking him to convict me of my sin, create in me a pure heart and give me a renewed spirit which helps me to live for Him (Psalm 51:1-10). This has also meant setting time aside to reflect on what God is teaching me during this season. Here are eight brief things that I have learnt:
1. Don’t lose sight of mission
The mission of the church has never changed. We are called to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matt 28:19) and be witnesses throughout the whole earth (Acts 1:8). Our Alpha courses during this season have been a huge success, with over 150 people exploring faith through the course. We are running a new course, which started on the 6th August, which you can still sign up for or invite friends to, and another course will be starting in September. We should never neglect our ongoing personal witness to our family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues.
2. Don’t lose sight of what it means to be a disciple
Being a disciple means being a follower of the way of Jesus in every area of our lives. This is far reaching, and includes – but is not limited to – the way we spend our time, money and other resources, how we think about social justice, our attitudes towards the poor and vulnerable, how we treat others and how we think about sex and relationships. The call to discipleship is a call to put to death selfish desires, to consider everyone else as more important than yourself, and to live a life of humble service.
3. We need each other
Human beings flourish when in loving community. During this season we have missed the physical presence of others and this has revealed again the importance of humans living in community. Let’s not neglect the calls to ‘build up’, ‘bear with’, ‘speak truth’, ‘comfort’ and ‘stir up’ one another that are seen throughout the New Testament letters. If you aren’t in a group, take a step and sign up to a group.
4. A quiet life is okay – it's even encouraged in Scripture!
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 is not quoted very much but is worthy of reflection, particularly in our fast-paced, noisy, entertainment culture. Paul’s exhortation is to ‘make it your ambition to lead a quiet life’. This is not an invitation to be lazy and just care about yourself – as he makes clear in the context. However, he seems to be teaching that a faithful life of working hard, providing for your family, and caring for the body of Christ is a life well lived. I heard someone say recently, “sometimes quiet faithfulness is the most revolutionary thing we can do”. Now that’s worthy of reflection.
5. Excessive technology use is detrimental to human relationships and connection
Sherry Turkle, in her excellent book, Alone Together, explores this in more detail and explains how humans have ended up expecting more from technology and less from each other. Research has shown that excessive technology use means we are less able to show empathy, less able to listen to one another, and less able to care for other human beings. After reading her book, I decided to turn off my phone for 24 hours each week! It’s been challenging but actually very rewarding.
6. Regular exercise helps my mental, spiritual, and emotional health
A few weeks into lockdown, I was really struggling. I felt down, anxious, and frustrated. I realised that I had got out of my usual routine of taking regular exercise and this was having a detrimental impact on my wellbeing. This bit of learning has been critical to my wellbeing over the last few months. I have started a regular routine of running and cycling which has enabled me to feel better, but it has also been a worshipful experience. As I have got out into God’s creation, I have been able to experience and worship Him in new ways which have been good for my soul.
7. We need to talk about race
We have needed to talk about race for centuries. However, the recent murders of George Floyd and others have exposed the need again to talk about race. This needs to be an ongoing conversation if we are to be the united and diverse church that God has called us to be. We need to be ‘quick to listen, slow to speak’ and show lots of grace to one another. But ongoing dialogue will help to bring to light the sin that exists in every human heart, and with God’s help we can bring about the change that will glorify God.
8. The work of God is to believe in the One He sent
It can be easy to feel inadequate and unproductive, particularly during this unprecedented pandemic. However, I praise God that the Gospel is one of grace and not works. When a crowd ask Jesus in John 6:28, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent”. Fundamentally, God calls us to a life of faith. Don’t find your identity in good works, but find your identity in being a loved child of God.
We tend to ‘keep a close watch’ on many other things (including gardens), but let’s not neglect to ‘keep a close watch’ over ourselves.
Charles Kimbangi is a pastor at King's and leads the Beckenham site. He is married to Amy.
Posted by Charles Kimbangi
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.