In Simon Guillebaud’s own words, last night’s message was not rocket science: but no one can claim that it was to complicated or difficult to remember. The burden of what he had to say was “Stay close to Jesus.” Christianity 101 (again, Simon’s own words).

Before getting into his message, Simon took us through some photos of family and life in Burundi. He introduced us to Grace, a little girl who had actually survived abortion. Her story, as Simon told it, is a metaphor of God’s grace in Jesus – grace that rescues us. He talked about the 615 evangelists who had recently returned from bush outreach, having probably led some 30000 people to faith in Christ in the past few weeks.

We read from John 13 and the beginnings of the betrayal story while the disciples were at supper with Jesus. Simon talked about a number of his teachers and mentors who have fallen, despite their gifts, achievements and promise: he is desperate that none of those in the tent should join their number. Yet everyone is in danger. Despite having seen so many things as they accompanied Jesus, all of the disciples eventually abandoned Jesus, and the enemy prowls like an angry lion, looking for people he can take out.

The message emphasised three things:

  1. Stay close to Jesus. Like John in the story, who was close enough to hear the Lord’s voice. Pursue God, and not the impact that God wants you to have. “Look around and be distressed; look within and be depressed; but look to Jesus and be at rest.”
  2. Stay close to his word. It is the only offensive weapon in the Ephesians 6 armoury.
  3. Stay close to others. It’s when we are isolated and alone that we tend to sin and mess up.

In his introduction Simon had mentioned the famous story of the Tanzanian marathon runner in the Mexico Olympics in 1968. The race went badly for him and he limped into the stadium long after the other runners had finished their course. Someone asked him why he had not just given up. He replied that his country had not just sent him to start the race, but to finish it. So with Jesus: he has not just sent us to start the race, biut to finish it. That’s why we need to stay close to him.