“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
// 2 Corinthians 5:17 //
“You can’t overhype AnCon”, they told me.
But, if there’s one thing that I mildly dislike – it’s hype. A lot of the time, I feel that hype is just a great blob of emotions that make you feel excited and great for a little while. But it’s just sugar – soon the rush disappears and you realise it wasn’t anything substantial anyway. Surely, AnCon was going to be good… but was it really going to be that good? So feeling a bit detached, and perhaps even a little dry, I rocked up to my first AnCon.
And… five days later, I discovered that AnCon was like a meal – a wholesome, delicious meal. It was one that not only tasted great, but also one which left you feeling filled, nourished, and with the satisfying knowledge that your body had what it needed to grow – despite the great food coma that it left you with (which I am still recovering from to this day)! It tasted so good. The special ingredient, truth. Much unlike the whole idea of ‘hype’ which so irked me, these five days at AnCon were eye-opening and challenging in a deeply real and genuine way. So, here are some reflections:
Over the course of AnCon, I slowly learnt how to function on three hours of sleep, just surviving through Rowan’s talks (the answer is an overdose of apples, and lots of tea). But through this, I was immersed in truth over and over. I was dead in Adam, but now alive in Christ. God made us for glory, and loved us in Christ. My most fundamental identity is being found in Christ. These were truths which I “knew”, yes, but being exposed again and again awakened in me a very strange realisation – “Hold on… these things are true!” True, for me. And true, whether I felt it or not, whether I was hyped or not, and whether I wanted it or not. Coming to grips with God’s truth and appreciating it for what it was – this was so, so refreshing. AnCon wasn’t just about learning cool pieces of theology or obscure facts about God. We talked about “being transformed by God’ word”, and I felt that I was certainly being transformed. And I watched as 700 other odd people were transformed too, as they lived out this reality over those five days at Merroo.
If there was one other big take away from AnCon, for me it was this – I’ve never been hit by so much talk of the LRLR (less-reached-less-resourced) before. We heard from our bold missionary friends each day, and the entire EU was buzzing about this whole ‘festival’ thing. And I realised that there was a task here to be done. I was challenged about the great needs of people all around the world, and furthermore, the fact that the LRLR exist on campus. The lost are out there, and need to hear the gospel. The gospel is powerful to save, and we should be bold with it. It might be scary or uncomfortable, but as Rowan said, “There will be plenty of comfort in Glory.”
So, my prayer is that AnCon might not be the high point or climax of the year, but a starting point and springboard for God’s great mission, as we continue on our trajectory towards glory!
// Nuggets of truth //
1) We are on a trajectory – once dead in Adam, to now alive in Christ. This is a God planned, God enabled trajectory towards glory. And this stands true, whether I like it or not, whether I feel it or not. The truth is that God has loved us so much, brought us to life, redeemed us as his people – all by the work of Christ. God made us and loved us in Christ. This is thus the most fundamental, most important truth about us. We are made in God’s image – his representative ruling presence, and He is sanctifying us each day to become his faithful image bearers.
2) “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:15) God’s word is powerful, and it transforms us. We have been saved into community – a family of those who are in Christ. So let us keep coming back to the word to be transformed by it, and continue to remind ourselves of the truth, and encouraging one another with it.
3) We must be bold with the gospel – because the gospel is powerful to save. It is not how well we present it or how engaging we can speak, but only through the working of God’s spirit that people may come to know him. ‘So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.’ (1 Corinthians 3:6). The consequences are real and terrible for those who are lost, yet the joy and glory is unsurpassed for those in Christ – so let us go out into the world, be faithful seed-sowers, and share this great joy that we have. There are so many less-reached less-resourced peoples – and the gospel is for everyone. And reaching out to the lost and the LRLR may be uncomfortable. But let us stop pursuing the ‘god’ of comfort. There will be plenty of comfort in Glory.
4) Jesus redefines the primary family as those who are in Him – those who do his will. Having been adopted as God’s ‘sons’, the body of Christ is thus our true family, with Jesus having our primary allegiance. We are co-heirs with Christ, and enjoy the same relationship that God the Son has with God the Father. Yet, our commitment to Christ generates and shapes a renewed commitment to love our biological families – a persisting, steadfast love which mirrors the love of God for us.