of camels and needles

nukelearfishing

You’d almost think I have some sort of plan for this blog (only ‘almost’). Yesterday I wrote bloggerel about grace, based on Jesus saying to a rich young man, “You lack one thing…”

I wrote that I would come back to the passage itself and today that’s my intention. You can find the passage in Luke 18:18-30.

In the context of Luke’s gospel this passage comes as part of a series of encounters Jesus had with different people where he confronted contemporary concepts of ‘greatness’ and how God views us differently to the way that humans look at each other. It seems to me that the rich young man who approached Jesus wanted him to validate his ticket into heaven. He reckoned he was good enough to get into God’s good books and, to the outside observer, he would have been a prime candidate. He was a good man…

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So close…

Grace!

nukelearfishing

economy crisis 1A wealthy young insurance broker came to Jesus and asked him how he could secure his eternal future. He had lived a good life and, to the best of his knowledge, he had not broken the Ten Commandments in any major way. Surely that was enough.

Jesus’ response is filled with pathos as says, “You lack one thing…” Only one! Surely he had done enough – why one more thing? On another occasion I will unpack this further because I think it has a lot to say to us in the relative wealth of the UK. But today I want to consider Jesus’ words – “You lack one thing…”

What would be the one thing that you lack?

I am making a rather large (and arrogant) presumption here to speak on behalf of Christians in the UK*. But I think the one thing we lack is grace. Not as in…

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We’re all equal but….

Aaron Swartz, internet activist

 

I have just read an article about Aaron Swartz. I had never heard of him before I read this article, and part of me feels that I should have. He was born in the same year that I was and had big plans, big dreams, big ideologies and did things to make those dreams come true.

In this article, written after his suicide, a friend said ‘He genuinely held other people as equally important as himself.’

Wow. I hope someone can say that about me, but I’m not sure if I would deserve it.

I had a conversation with someone about how everyone is at least 0.3% of a murderer; about how the deaths of people working in substandard factories were our responsibility. I am guilty of killing people because I support and, in many ways, demand the systems which kill them. I see their deaths and write a blog on how terrible it is and then wander down to the cheap shops to get myself a new outfit that I don’t actually need.

There are places in the world where I could buy ethical clothing, where the money I used to buy it would go to the people who made it and would actually cover their costs and give them some profit instead of giving the profit to some big corporation which doesn’t pay people enough to live on and allows them to work in terrible conditions. But I don’t buy ethical clothing, because it is too expensive and I can’t afford it. But what I mean, is that I couldn’t afford to buy as much clothes as I wanted. If I only bought clothes I actually needed, I could afford the ethical clothes.

But I am selfish and I don’t really believe that other people are as equally important as me.

Shout Love, not hate!

Today I heard ‘Being with you’ by Smokey Robinson on the radio.

A song where Smokey tells a girl that even though all his friends and family are telling him that she is a heart breaker and that she is trouble, he is going to ignore everything they’ve said because he just wants to be with her. He doesn’t care what they think about him, doesn’t care what they say about him, doesn’t even care if they start to avoid him.

Perhaps, his friends and family are jerks and are roughly judging this girl who may actually love him. She may just be misunderstood. Do these people actually have any evidence that this girl is out to hurt poor Smokey? Are they just dissing her based on rumours, possibly spread by sad and angry ex-boyfriends?

Or maybe they do have evidence, if so, did they actually prove this to Smokey? Did they share with him the reasons for their concerns? Are they just poor at presenting a sensible argument? Considering this guy’s heart is at risk, they should probably be putting some effort into getting their message across clearing and in a way that Smokey will listen to and understand.

Or maybe they do have evidence and they did put it across clearly but Smokey is the sort of guy who needs actual personal evidence. If that is the case then I hope that his friends and family are around to offer comfort if the worst comes to the worst.

I suppose it is all about communication.

If you have something important to tell someone then you’ve got to make sure that you tell them in a way that they are going to understand, a way that they’re likely to listen to, a way that gives them all the facts, a way that applies to them personally.

There is a way to communicate with people. And unfortunately, the people who are seen to be publicly communicating faith positions are terrible at communication. There are particular faith groups who get a lot of publicity who preach messages of hate. Those of us who follow a message of love and forgiven, even to the point of forgiving those who hate us, we need to stand in opposition who have twisted a message of beauty and made it ugly.

Those who kill in the name of faith, those who picket funerals in the name of faith, those who discriminate in the name of faith. They should not be the only voice of faith.

We need to get better at communicating the love and beauty because those who preach hate are doing it louder and better!