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.

I love the gospel of Mark because of its simplicity. Two threads run through the book: the identity of Jesus and the way of discipleship. Who is Jesus? And what does it look like (or not look like!) to follow Jesus?

As we journey with Jesus, through Mark, towards the cross, we’re left with a burning question. What will we do with Jesus? Is he the Lord of our lives? Will we permit Him to transform our lives and our world? Can our culture be transformed by us being transformed?

Mark is framed with the truth about Jesus. The most pressing declaration of Jesus’ identity comes from the lips of Peter (Mark 8:27-29): Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’

Jesus firstly asks what other people say about him. But then Jesus gets direct. Who do YOU say that I am? We all have to answer this question. But it isn’t as simple as we’d like. This involves more than the words we say, the declarations of faith we make, but it is seen in our transformed lives. It requires taking what we are convinced of and living it out in reality. 

But here’s a probing question: Is Jesus who you say he is when no one’s looking? Is he Lord at the lunch table in the cafeteria at school? Is he King when you get cut up on the motorway? Is he God, reigning on the throne of your heart, when you see a person in need and you are in a hurry? 

Let me boil it down: do we believe that Jesus is God, AND do we live like Jesus is God?

When we don’t, Puritan Stephen Charnock called it ‘practical atheism,’ Practical atheism is acknowledging God, even the one true God, in one’s confession of faith or verbal affirmation, but denying Him in action.

The challenge for any disciple of the Lord Jesus is to live out what they believe in such a way that transforms and moulds the world around them. As Paul says in Romans 12:2 (The Voice) Do not allow this world to mould you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind….

Peter’s own story reveals what it is like for many of us in our apprenticeship to the Lord Jesus. Following Peter’s confession, we discover Peter’s denial and finally his restoration. This was the moment in Peter’s apprenticeship to Jesus when things changed. From this moment on he no longer just had an affection (love …) for Jesus, but this was transformed into a PASSION (truly love …) for Him. Peter no longer allowed the world to mould him but through this transforming intimacy with the Lord Jesus the world around him was transformed. As you read through the book of Acts, you will see this lived and worked out in so many practical ways.

Search your heart and pray over three areas of your life that you want to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, perhaps in a way you never have.  

Take Jesus’ question personally, “Who do you say that I am?” Believe it and live it!

In this new season, may you discover again afresh the transformed intimacy with the Lord Jesus.

Gary Woodall
Regional Minister