According to a report I read over the summer something called SHRINKFLATION has been taking place in our shops almost undetected since 2012. The shocking scale of which has been revealed in that 2,529 products have fallen in size in just the last five years. Everything from toilet rolls to Mars Bars and the amount of tea in a tea bag has shrunk and done so surreptitiously by manufacturers and supermarkets who seldom announce these cuts in pack sizes, that without even noticing it, shoppers end up getting less for their money than they think. SHRINKFLATION however doesn’t just apply to big sellers like Crisps, chocolate bars and washing powder, sadly it now seems to be taking hold of the much needed gospel itself.
Before we get to that however let me say two important other things linked to this idea of SHRINKFLATION.
Firstly, the absence of the Shirley Baptist Magazine these last few months due to the editors’ house move has made me even more aware of just what a BIG job they do in helping to keep us all up to date with everything going on in our fellowship. I would want to personally thank them for all they do to protect any SHRINKFLATION of the much needed news and communications that keep us all in touch with one another and helps to fire our prayers.
Secondly, and as you all will know there has been no SHRINKFLATION of our vision here at Shirley either. Our new assistant pastor Paul Sutton arrives this month with his lovely wife Laura to help us expand our mission to know Jesus better and make Jesus better known by Serving Our Shirley through whole life discipleship. Please make them feel welcome and may there never be any SHRINKFLATION of our encouragement of them or our support for them.
Finally then to come back to the gospel itself, God forbid that we reduce the good news of Jesus to the level of saying only what we think people want us to say and sacrifice the truth for popular opinion. In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, God promised His people something new. At that time God’s commandments were written on tablets of stone; but one day they would be written on the hearts and minds of His children. At that time God’s Spirit was with His people; but one day He would be in His people. At that time sacrifices were offered over and over for sins; but one day there would be one sacrifice for all time. At that time God’s people placed their faith in a coming Messiah; but now our faith is in a risen and reigning Messiah.
Jesus, and the message He brought, was the fulfilment of thousands of years of prophecy. It was a promise kept to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants. As Acts 10:36 says, “God’s message in Christ is the good news of peace.” Not peace between men, but peace with God and Peace with God can only come through Christ. There is no other way. SHRINKFLATION demands we cut back on that message and limit Christ to being nothing more than one of many good examples we can follow, but certainly not the only Saviour of mankind. How would Jesus have fared in this culture of “what’s true for you isn’t true for me?” It is common to talk about how loving Christ was of sinners. Of people who weren’t like Him, and He was, but as He said Himself, “No one could get to God except through Him.” The tension then between grace and truth is real and to be honest is hard to navigate. But whereas SHRINKFLATION would have us put our own need to be liked, ahead of sharing the most important truth on the planet. We must persevere, despite opposition that now attacks not only our beliefs, but also our character for believing the way we do, in boldly sharing the Gospel with grace, love, and kindness.
Let us not SHRINK from the challenge to be good news and share good news every day, everywhere and by all means in every situation we are in, offering our community nothing less than the full truth Christ paid the highest price to bless us with.
Think about that next time you measure your chocolate bar or replace your loo roll.
Your friend and pastor