Faith in Action 

Here you will find stories or views from from local Churches, Christian social action projects, organisations etc


Because you’re worth it? 

Let’s talk about feeling let down. We’ve all felt it, we’ve all said it, we’ve all done it. 

Little Things
In a generation which has an awful lot to say about what it is entitled to, we increasingly feel like we are being let down, disappointed, and not given that which we deserve. 

1126739studyingforatest1We’re sold this “You deserve more” idea every time we turn on the TV. Advertising certainly plays off this idea and gives us a strong sense of entitlement, but also in TV dramas and reality shows the power play in relationships is almost always brought back to what each other deserves, or is worth.

It actually seems to be a good thing to say a thing like ‘I deserve better’ sometimes. We’re attempting to clarify what would make us succeed, flourish and thrive. We’re affirming for ourselves the fact that we have value and shouldn’t be harmed, and that’s a pretty important way to feel! 

As a girl, which is all the experience I can speak from, I have noticed a very common pattern. If I ever had some sort of boy trouble, the go to solution my friends would offer, and vice versa the solution I would offer if my friends were in the situation, would be to tell me that I’m better off without the guy, that I deserved better. I appreciate that my friends wanted to remind me that they want good things for me, that they were sympathetic to my hurt and wanted to take me out of harm’s way, but I wasn’t often asked about where I’d gone wrong, or where I wasn’t being fair, or where I was acting a little too holier than thou. I want to question that consolation that we so often offer for a second, because it’s possible that we can find a little too much comfort in the words ‘you deserve more’. 

10943033friends5It may seem harsh, but how much do I really deserve? I know for certain that God has put a priceless value on my head by dying for me, and I know that we are to see the people around us as people with that same value, and to love as he loved. But have we translated this appropriately with regard to how we what we feel entitled to? I know for sure that I didn’t deserve what God has done for me, and yet he has conveyed onto me infinite value through laying down his own perfect life for my brokenness. In that case, my worth, and all that I deserve, has been both defined by but also completely fulfilled by God. He has set a high standard for how he sees each of us and the love that he wants for us. But as well as setting the standard, he has delivered on that standard by showing and continuing to show that much love to us. So do I deserve more than being let down by other people? Perhaps, and it sounds a bit radical, other people do not bear the responsibility of loving us the way we deserve. Deserve is the operative word, because regardless we are still commanded to love in all we do. This command to love therefore must be for another reason than that God needs for our worth to be validated by other broken people. If only we would understand that this love that others are commanded to show us and we are commanded to show is not because of what we or they deserve, but because of what God desires for us as his children. 

I am so challenged by the verse that says, “I will not boast in anything but Jesus Christ”. By myself, in and of myself, I deserve nothing. I hurt people and view people in a way that I would object to if it was done to me. I cannot find anything in me which I can pinpoint that makes me worth being loved and cherished. I don’t have low self-esteem, I’m merely saying, I cannot search myself and find a reason why I, in and of myself, deserve better than when somebody else lets me down. 
To be clear, I am not talking about relationships or situations that are abusive or destructive for us, where somebody actively brings us down or causes us harm. I’m talking about when we rub up against someone else’s flaws and the inevitable difficulties that can happen as a result.

facepainterThe first question that I am learning to ask myself when I feel let down, is, ‘What was I relying on them to do for me in the first place?’ It’s true that others miss the mark on how God wants you to be loved. We can be badly treated, and we can be hurt, and I believe God wants us to be safe and loved, but not because it’s what we in and of something we have earnt, but because of the fact that he has defined us as his children. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the statement ‘I am worth more than that’, as long as we understand that the reason that we are worth more is because of what God has done. The risk in appealing to what we or others do or don’t deserve is that we begin to develop a bit of a superiority complex. 

Superiority is not an attitude you can find as part of what it means to follow Jesus; He stops his disciples in their tracks when they argue over who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Philippians 2:3 says “be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves”. This isn’t about putting yourself down, but instead understanding that you are not above the person who is letting you down, that you certainly aren’t entitled to more than others, and that you are also more than capable of letting the person down in return. 

UnityConsider, if Jesus had had the same attitude on earth that we have towards those who let us down, then all would be lost. Of everyone who has ever walked the earth, he was the most qualified to feel superior and push away those who didn’t honour him as everything that he was and is. He was the most qualified to turn his back and say that he deserved more than people could give. Yet Jesus walked amongst disappointing humanity and decided to treat us with all the love that he deserved from us. I don’t remember Jesus saying to his disciples ‘People will hate you, but don’t worry, you deserve better than that’. No, he assured of his presence, and he reminded them that he had overcome it all already. I don’t think he wants us to go around feeling hurt every time someone else misses the mark. I think he might ask you the question, “What were you relying on them to fulfil in you in the first place?” 

In God, your worth is set, and no matter how someone else treats you they cannot undo that, you are safe to love people without getting anything back. We need some wisdom about how close we can be to those who consistently neglect to show us love, but pushing away from someone and justifying it to ourselves as being because “we deserve better” is not a healthy solution. After all, we’re going to feel unsatisfied by anyone until we realise that it is up to God to decide how much we are worth, and he is the only one who will absolutely never let us down. Finally, the pressure is off you and me to try to give people everything they feel they ought to have. We love, not because others have earnt it, but because He loved us first. 

Becky Roberts

Becky RobertsBecky Roberts is a first year Biblical Studies and Theology student at the University of Nottingham. She grew up in Ipswich and attended St Matthews church, and recently has been very involved with The Forge in Debenham

Read her other blogs - click here

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users.  We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted in the forum below, upon the ideas expressed here.

Becky Roberts, 09/09/2016


It’s the little things ...

There is a desire in all of us to do the extraordinary. The extraordinary demands much of us, but it is infinitely rewarding.... and yet as Christians...

Little Things
j0321061It makes us feel extraordinary. This is not to say it’s a selfish desire. Extraordinary things, done for others especially, are breath-taking and effective and they cause change and transformation, hence their appeal. It is a beautiful thing that we are wired up as humans to take pleasure and find fulfilment in going completely out of our way to demonstrate real love and kindness. This means though, that as Christians we do not have some sort of monopoly on acts of loving kindness.

It seems to be a sign of all humanity being made in God’s image that we find joy in giving of ourselves for others. Yet, the writers in the New Testament clearly encourage Christians to be people whose good deeds shine brightly in a way that is unique in the world. If this cannot be accomplished merely by doing the extraordinary, then what does this ask of us? What follows is not supposed to be an exhaustive solution to what the exceptional life of faith could look like, but it is perhaps the area which we give little consideration to. 

I have come to realise that it is in the mundane and the small scale things of life where we are called to be radically different. When I say ‘radical’, it makes us think of doing breath taking and unthinkable things, but I don’t think this is necessarily what the Bible encourages as the only expression of our devotion to God. In fact, only thinking of ourselves as being Christ like when we do the craziest and most unbelievable things could be dangerous. In reality, the majority of our lives are not successive incredulous and surreal events, so to discard all the normality and rhythm of daily life is to section off a huge part of life which is lived untouched and unaffected by faith. Martin Buber, a 20th century philosopher, argued that we are so convinced that true religion is found in the ‘otherness’ of life that we do not engage with the world around us and hence miss out on the religious experience which makes up part of daily reality. 

It is within the context of the ordinary in which we find and also become the most extraordinary. 

j0178525There are a few bible verses that support this. Philippians 2:14 says “do everything without complaining and arguing”. We easily overlook this call, because we are utterly desensitised to complaining. To do all things without complaining is asking us to abandon something which we can barely go a day without doing. Perhaps we let it slide because complaining doesn’t seem to hurt people directly.

Often bad consequences flag up areas in which we have fallen short, yet there seem to be no repercussions. Complaints are vented with someone who is not connected to the situation and can nod and sympathise and share in your frustration. We want someone to notice, agree, and we want an assurance that that which has irritated us truly was an outrage and shouldn’t happen again. 

 It is the seemingly trivial nature of complaining that should cause us to think again about it, however. In the very fact that it is such a tiny thing which we consider to be of little significance, there is the opportunity to be radically different. A call to stop complaining is nonsensical, because there isn’t really a reason not to. Normally nobody is affected, and I’ve noticed that sharing a mutual complaint can even be something which we bond over. A shared frustration can easily be something which we use to relate to others. To be someone who is rarely found moaning and complaining therefore, is an extraordinary thing in itself. 

j0262685I think the key thing to remember is that, whilst Jesus does not demand perfection or good deeds from us in order to be loved and accepted by him, he really raised the bar in an utterly counter cultural way for what it looks like to live and love well. For him, good and bad was not about what is deserved, or whether it will come round to bite you, or whether there will be terrible consequences. In the very fact that we are called to pray for our enemies, we see that we are to be radically different in such a way that we do things that make no sense, do not seem to benefit us, and are not done simply to avoid negative consequences or to stop someone from being directly hurt. When we consider complaining, therefore, our question should not be, “does it hurt?”, but instead, as John Piper says, “Does it help me run?”, that is to say, does it help me to become the person that God calls me to be, in myself and for others? 

j0386497Our complaints come from dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction is not a state that Jesus calls us to or offers us. He holds out the opportunity to drink from a well that never runs dry. To live a life of satisfaction, acknowledging disappointment yet not letting it fester in us or let our mouth run out complaint after moan after complaint. Now, of course it may seem a little dramatic to suggest that being unimpressed by the service at a restaurant is a reflection of our satisfaction in Jesus. This is not the point I am making. We are often frustrated by unmet expectations, but what do we show about ourselves and our contentment when we allow them to determine how we speak about our day?

Complaints and irritation, generally, are disproportionate. We give them more attention than they require too often than not.  Disappointment is inevitable, but letting disappointment get the better of our attitudes and cloud our picture of a day or even a person is avoidable. Spreading negativity is not what it looks like to be people of the light. But how exceptional it would be to let irritation wash off us, to take a moment to find a perspective beyond the small irritations which cause us little damage if we keep them in proportion. False positivity is not what’s called for, but a genuine attempt to surrender our annoyances and frustrations and keep rooted in the greater beauty and richness of life is a great thing. I wonder if God laughs at how we get so worked up about the smallest things. I wonder if He wills us to just take a moment to step back and realise the hilarity of an irritating situation. 

IMG0801 I have no doubt that allowing irritation to pass by us and keeping ourselves rooted in the ultimate satisfaction of a life with God will not only look incredible to the onlooker, but also will give us a whole new lease of life in the midst of the mundane. 

Perhaps the more we attempt to reflect Christ in the mundane, the more we will understand the way God acts and is present in what seem to be the dullest moments. Raising our awareness of him in all moments, rather than only in moments of ‘otherness’ could transform the most menial of tasks into a moment to display His glory. If only we could find a place in which we did not only see God in the dramatic highs and lows, or feel that we were serving him only we did something utterly fantastic. If only it was etched into every detail of our days, that we gave control even of the things that we seem to be perfectly capable of controlling ourselves. Be the person who doesn’t get angry in traffic, and the one who doesn’t leave a cruel review, and the person who doesn’t complain to their friends. Perhaps we could allow more room for God in the simplest of things. How extraordinary it would be to refuse to slip into the easily ignored habits and grumblings of daily life. To acknowledge God in all things, to desire to be Christ to people not just in moments of great earth-shattering significance but every second. With God’s help I think this could transform us, and in turn he could change us into truly incredibly, normal people. 

Becky Roberts

Becky RobertsBecky Roberts is a first year Biblical Studies and Theology student at the University of Nottingham. She grew up in Ipswich and attended St Matthews church, and recently has been very involved with The Forge in Debenham

Read her other blogs - click here

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users.  We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted in the forum below, upon the ideas expressed here.

Becky Roberts, 06/06/2016


Doesn’t she look beautiful? 

What's your view of the Church?  Becky Roberts a student from Ipswich challenges us to look at the Church the way the Bible describes... what do you see? 

This summer I will be going to three weddings. I absolutely love weddings – most people do, they’re inexplicably precious things to watch. I once saw a couple getting married in Central Park. I didn’t know them, I just walked past and stopped to watch as they said their vows, but I still cried watching it because of the joy on both of their faces. If someone had asked me to describe the bride, I would have described the smile on her face, and the way she looked at her husband, and how beautiful she looked in her dress. In the summer, I’m positive I will see three more stunning brides, and my only thought as I look at them is sure to be their joy, their beauty and their love for their soon to be husband.

wedding3-w700-h500The Bible paints a beautiful and irresistible picture of the bride of Christ, the church. It says Christ gave himself up for her, “so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind- yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish”. We are the beautiful, unblemished bride of Christ, but what kind of bride do we look like from the outside? 

Allow me to take this picture we get from the Bible a little further…

I wonder how people see this bride of Christ’s. Imagine if people were to say about a bride, “I don’t like her dress” or, “she doesn’t look that happy”, or “she once hurt me”, or “I don’t understand her”, or “I’ve never seen her before, isn’t she a bit old?” or, “she’s never spoken to me before” or “she never did explain what she saw in him”. What if someone went to a wedding and was so uninspired by the bride that they didn’t stay to take a look at the groom? What if they missed the love in the groom’s eyes because the bride had so tainted their picture of the wedding? 

But what if someone looked at the bride and she was radiant. What if she walked down the aisle beaming? What if the ceremony was packed out with people trying to get a look at her to understand something of her joy? What if as they saw her, they suddenly were desperate for a glimpse of the groom, because they couldn’t understand what it was that made her glow? What if their first thought about the bride was “I can see she is greatly loved and greatly in love - I want to look like that!”? 

A bride doesn’t dress down on her wedding day, even though she knows that her husband loves her regardless. She knows her groom is handsome and wonderful and people will love him when they meet him, yet she still goes to every effort to show her love for him before others. She celebrates her day by making herself look her best, and people are drawn to her outward appearance as well as the joy she shows is inside. It is not overly showy or distracting for her to wear a beautiful dress; it draws our eyes to her and in turn to where she looks- to her groom. She can’t take her eyes off the groom, but in a way that invites everyone else to look at him, rather than in a way that makes everyone else feel excluded from the scene. In her eyes, we understand something of the groom because we see the love that he has ignited in her.

There is a key difference between a normal wedding and what we, the church, have to offer. We are not showing people an example of a groom and provoking them to find someone who matches up. We are showing them the real thing, the exact same person who we ourselves have found and who they too can have. They do not have to remain observers, but we invite them to participate in this beautiful marriage.  The church should be the best at reaching out, but it should also be the best at drawing in. 

The point I’m trying the make it this: Do we, the church, draw the eyes of everyone onto us and in turn onto Jesus as a bride does on her wedding? Do people in Ipswich and across Britain not attend church for the reason that they do not believe that Jesus is who he says he is, or do we, the church, play a part in their disinterest? If a bride was told, “I don’t think I can get to know your groom because I don’t understand the way you talk about him”, wouldn’t she try to explain why she loved him in a way that that person would understand? What if they said, “The ceremony was so dull I can’t see how the man you’re so crazy about can be that exciting”? What if they even said, “You make me feel like you deserve this kind of love but I don’t”? What if the bride didn’t dress up and no one noticed her? Wouldn’t she want to do everything she could to show people her joy, inside and out? 

wedding5-w700-h500I’ve often heard people say, “the church isn’t the building, it’s the people”. The statement is good in that it denies that churches are made up of four walls, but it’s still not quite there. Church in the New Testament literally mean gathering. Not just people, but people who come together and exist with purpose and intention.  If the church is merely the people, then we are merely a body. The bride has legs and arms and a face, but what is she doing? Is she smiling? Is she beautiful? Does she have infectious joy? Can she explain her joy? Does she draw people into herself, or is she acting in a way which makes her exclusive and inaccessible? 

How beautiful does the bride look from the outside? What can people look in on and be drawn to?  What are our Sunday mornings like? What does our outreach look like? It’s important, because it could be the difference between someone being open to hearing the gospel. The Bible says that we are a “chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession”; I think we sometimes stop there and allow church, particularly Sunday mornings, to become internal; exciting for those who are a part of it but not much to look at from the outside. But the verse goes on, saying “as a result, you can show others the goodness of God”. Our inclusion into the people of God must in turn show others, in any way possible and without barriers and hindrances, the goodness of God in a way that catches their attention as much as a bride on her wedding day.  Paul says, “For we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 

As the Bride of Christ, are we already doing everything we can to make sure people want to get to the groom? Have we made ourselves beautiful on the exterior, not to show off, but to catch the attention of those who have not yet encountered him? Are we an exceptional group of people to be amongst; do we leave people breathless at the love we have? Do we walk down the aisle towards the groom with our eyes fixed on him in a way that shuts people out, or does it invite more people to look up to the altar, and find the one we love for themselves? 

Becky Roberts

Becky RobertsBecky Roberts is a first year Biblical Studies and Theology student at the University of Nottingham. She grew up in Ipswich and attended St Matthews church, and recently has been very involved with The Forge in Debenham

Read her other blogs - click here

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users.  We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted in the forum below, upon the ideas expressed here.

Becky Roberts, 26/04/2016



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