Apart from my role here at West Beach, I also serve the Baptist Churches in our rural regions as a Regional Minister. This includes the Laura Baptist Church, which, along with the rest of Laura came so close to the devastating fire that has been burning in the region for the last month or so. Members of the Laura Baptist Church and farm owners, Bevan and Wendy Smith were recently interviewed on ABC radio, along with their son Andrew who owns the neighbouring farm.
On Monday 10th Feb, they were asked by the CFS if they would allow a back-burn through their properties. They would lose about half of their farms, some 120 acres each, but if the back-burn was successful, the town of Laura would be saved. They both agreed and sacrificed their land, scrub, fencing etc. in order to save the town. It was courageous and sacrificial of them. It was also the right thing to do.
This story has obvious parallels with Jesus’ sacrifice for us. He was “back-burned”, so to speak, so that we might be saved. But it also has parallels with us here at West Beach when it comes to sacrificing in order to save the town. We all have preferences and styles that we like, whether it’s music, seating, preaching styles, décor, routines or habits. Sometimes we might even want to defend our preferences quite firmly. I know I have that tendency. But God is not calling us to our own preferences, nor is he calling us to build up a church that will make us feel comfortable, happy or familiar with the routine. We need to seriously think about what style, music, seating and even décor will make it easier for people meet Jesus. We need to find ways to bring the confronting truth of Jesus in a way which is relevant and meaningful. He’s calling us, as mature people of faith to sacrifice our own preferences for the sake of the town. What Beven, Wendy and Andrew did showed maturity, selflessness and an appreciation of the bigger picture. I’m sure we can do the same.