Be the light

Rant warning !

Why is it that we see the need to be critical of other people. As I get older I find that tolerance of others seems to get less within society. Some people seem to find it all too easy to call out the faults in others and whilst I agree that there are many injustices within society that need to be challenged so often we look for the little things and pick on them.

In a world which seems to be dominated by mistrust, tension between America and Iran, between Leavers and Remainers (Brexit), between political opponents seeking historical mistakes in others and “fake news” cried in every situation that people disagree with, why do we seek to discredit colleagues, friends, family over little things ? So often it feels as though we’re ignoring the tatty state of our own garden and criticising our neighbours houses in order to hide our own shortcomings.

And sadly we’re all guilty of it.

This rant has come about because some Church folk have ‘complained’ about something that is so mind-bogglingly trivial that it hardly warrants mention, and yet it sits just under my skin, creating a persistent itch. It almost feels as though folk require their pound of flesh no matter how small the matter might be or how insignificant it is in the scheme of things compared to hunger in Africa, war in the Middle East, child abuse etc.

In Matthew 5:38-40, Jesus advocates turning the other cheek when hurt: forgiveness is the way not revenge. In Matthew 18:21-22 Jesus speaks to Peter about forgiving someone seventy times seven as an answer to the question of forgiveness. Here he is indicating that there should be no end to forgiveness. I’m also mindful of the injunction of Jesus in Matthew 7:5 to “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Too often I ignore the plank obscuring my vision and I concentrate on the fault in someone else.

And yet when someone offends it is very easy (and sadly almost self-righteous) not to accept their apology. My particular sadness is that it is a trait that affects all areas not only of society but of the Church itself. And I too fall into the trap. It feels as though there is something inside of us which refuses to give in and accept an apology. Is it pride ? Is it a belief that acceptance shows weakness ? Is it the thought that ‘they deserve it’ ? It could be any of these or a thousand more reasons but the answer surely has to lie with each one of us. Certainly for Christians there has to be a better way, and its Gods way, especially as shown by Jesus. Proverbs 25:22 indicates the better as being the way of showing love; being the better person; claiming the moral ground. for it speaks of how being kind to a person is like pouring burning coals onto their head. It sounds harsh but the idea being that the heat of kindness melts their hard hearts and reconciliation becomes possible.

The picture on the right hangs in the Church that Alison and I love so much in Poiana, Romania. I don’t know the story behind it but every time I look at it or think of it, somehow God seems to speak to me through it. The love shown by Jesus on the cross should lie at the centre of all of our hearts; when I think of Christians that I admire who have fallen out with fellow Christians I want to cry “where is the love of Jesus in your heart, that shows forgiveness”: when I think of Christians not speaking to other Christians, no matter how great the hurt I want to ask “how much hurt did Jesus endure on the cross for us and yet was able to say ‘Father, forgive them’“; When I hear of Church members (& Presbyters) being critical of the so called Church hierarchy who are often trying their best in difficult circumstances I want to say “when did you last pray for them ?”

I’m, frankly fed up of being criticised, attacked, complained about, suspected, but I keep trying to return to the Christian default position of love; I try to love people into the Kingdom of Jesus and I try to love those who are already there. In this way I’m trying to model my life upon the Lord I love.

In a week in which my three year old Granddaughter looked at her wrinkled fingers after a bath and declared “I’m getting old” I want to look at my whole life and be able to declare I’m not only getting older but wiser and hopefully more Christlike (long way to go)

Thanks for pursuing this rant to the end, but it would be better if all of my readers could endeavour to put right relationships, forgive others, accept forgiveness, and take the love of Jesus into their hearts.

Then we can truly tackle the ‘big’ issues in our world, in order to alleviate suffering, hunger, raise up the oppressed and protect the weak and vulnerable.

Finally, dont talk about the light; be the light