Each month we’ll be hearing from one of our Regional Ministers, to encourage us along the way as we continue empowering missional disciples in our communities across the West of England.

During 2023 we’ve been unpacking the overall theme of Growing Disciples of Jesus in our monthly pastoral letters and for the first four months we’ve focused on our personal walk of discipleship. This month we shall begin another four-month cycle following the same four elements of Being with Jesus; Becoming like Jesus; Living with Jesus and Learning from Jesus, but this time with the focus: Encouraging others.

What is the connection between our being with Jesus and encouraging others as disciples of Jesus?

The place I’ve turned to recently, which highlights so many helpful elements to encourage this is 1 Peter 1:13-22

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

Why was Peter someone who people took notice of? The fact he’d been one of Jesus’ closest disciples would be well known, but so would the stories of his shortcomings and failings. 

When you have the time it’s very illuminating to read every reference in the gospel narratives where Peter appears and then to read his letters. We’re reading about the same person and personality, but through his letters we can see someone who’s now being formed more by the way and life of Jesus than his own instincts and desires.

Peter was willing to tell it as it is. Lord, help me to set my hope wholly on you too.

Peter knew words were not enough. Remember the episode after Jesus’ resurrection when Jesus re-commissions Peter. Peter faces his own broken promises, quick without-thinking words, but Jesus elevates Peter’s hope to another level. Lord, may my life align increasingly with yours.

Peter knew what it is to be forgiven: he owned his responsibility and sin but knew the father’s grace was deeper. Lord, help me not to pretend I don’t need your forgiveness and cleansing and not to forget your grace is for me too.

Peter knew his failure was not the end of his story. Remember it was the same Peter who once said ‘get away from me Lord I am a sinful man’, who now calls everyone to ‘be holy in all you do’. Lord, help me over the hurdle of today’s failing.

We live in a time when our culture is becoming increasingly shallow, crude, and empty. Lord, may my and our discipleship cause others to set their hope in you, align their direction with you and be empowered by you.

Nigels Coles

Regional Team Leader