Bishop's Comment: ​Filled with joy (John 15:11)

4th September 2018

The course 'Psychology and the Good Life' offered by Laurie Santos has attracted more students than any other course in the prestigious Yale University's 300 years.

Sophie McBain says that the series starts with a warning "You are about to learn that everything you thought was important for being happy isn't" (New Statesman 27 July 2018 p29) Common sense self-help prescriptions described in the magazine article make no mention of religion. My own introduction to a similar Mind Dynamics course at college left me dissatisfied with its unsustainable ideals and the absence of ultimate authority.

A thoughtful colleague sent me her father's publication 'Mad or God? Jesus: the Healthiest Mind of All' (IVP 2018). Andrew Sims and Pablo Martinez, both senior psychiatrists with Christian faith, take the reader through the essential elements of mental health and test Jesus rigorously in each area, using the evidence of scripture and reason.

I found my own acceptance of Lord Jesus Christ as the ideal and authority for human living renewed, my own gradual maturing affirmed and my short comings confirmed! False happiness, fuelling narcissism and entitlement, is superseded by true joy in prayer and service.

An obedient response to God's saving grace is not proclaiming happiness but bold witness to Jesus Christ by word and deed. This cannot be in our own strength or philosophy but an overflowing of Christ's love for us.

In Church of England Birmingham we are reshaping our parish life and leadership in order that everyone in the region might hear and see the extraordinary claims of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. The invitation to worship God together, make disciples of Jesus and be a Prophetic witness in the power of the Holy Spirit, is open to everyone.

Pray that you too will be part of this generation's Transforming Church.