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Shake it off- Charles Simeon

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Have you thought about, or been in a situation where you’ve been trying to serve God and things have just kept getting in the way though? How do we feel when a friend we’ve been inviting to church for the past 5 years knocks us back again? Or we’re serving in a ministry that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? When your bible study group just doesn’t seem interested? Or when things just don’t seem to be falling into place?

We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that this isn’t new. Telling people about Jesus isn’t always popular. But it can be easy to think maybe it’s just us doing something wrong.


Who was Charles Simeon?

Charles Simeon was born in 1759, and grew up with the best of everything.

He came from an aristocratic family and went to one of the top schools in the UK, then one of the most exclusive colleges at Cambridge University. But during his time at uni, he began to see there was still a big gap in his life, where he had been pushing God away.

He realised that he needed to turn his life around- he needed to actually accept God into his life, and make a change. And as part of this, he decided to train as a minister. He then ended up working back in Cambridge at a church.

Keep on keeping on

Simeon was appointed to this position in Cambridge after the sudden death of the previous pastor, but when he took over there was tension. Firstly, he wasn’t the person his congregation wanted to take over this job. Secondly, he preached from the bible in a way that went against what most people were doing at the time. And thirdly, he prioritised preaching to students (knowing the impact the gospel had on him when he was a student).

You would think that in a church, everyone would be able to put their differences aside and get along, but in this case that didn’t happen.

Simeon’s church members refused to let him preach at their afternoon services. The church building was locked to stop him holding an evening service. A lecturer at the university scheduled classes on Sunday nights so that students couldn’t attend church. Church members locked the pews so visitors couldn’t sit down in the church.

Just about everything that could be done to try and stop him from preaching and stop people hearing him, was done. But people still came, to hear about Jesus. Over years this conflict slowly resolved, but Simeon kept going.

When one of his friends asked him why he kept going through all this struggle, this is what he said:

My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ’s sake. When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the pricking of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumphed over death. Let us follow Him patiently; we shall soon be partakers of His victory

What do we do when things are hard?

When things are hard, especially in ministry when we’re serving God, it can be hard to know if you should keep going. Maybe its easy to think ‘If I was doing what God wanted, wouldn’t things be easy?’

It is helpful to reflect honestly on how we’re doing things, because sometimes we do need to change our methods if there is conflict. But we can also remember that facing opposition or discouragement doesn’t always mean that we’re doing something wrong. Charles Simeon was one of the founding fathers of university ministry and continued to faithfully preach the gospel even when his own church was telling him not to. And Jesus also continued his ministry when he was surrounded by opposition!

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. (John 15:18-21)

We can know that if we face opposition because we’re telling people about Jesus, that’s pretty normal. When we talk about Jesus, people won’t want to hear that message, because it tells us that we can’t do things on our own and we need Jesus to save us.

Spend some time reflecting on John 15:18-21, and thinking about how you are involved in ministry at church and ES and any trouble you have faced in this ministry. Pray that God will show you where you need to change what you are doing, and that he will give you strength to persevere.

Flinders ES- Lauren B

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