To be a moral chameleon?

Do you remember the previous era of free speech, when it was fashionable to say such things as “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“?

To me, it doesn’t seem that long ago, although at the same time these days it can really feel an age away.

Now might be a very good time for those people who said that to put their words into action, even if the death is not physical, but social, economic and suchlike.

Because these days, to disapprove of what someone says is often grounds to begin a persecution of them. As long, of course, you are the one holding the ‘correct’ views.

In the age in which I used to live, speech that was banned was on the edge – calling for someones murder, or the classic of yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded cinema. Speech that would result in real harm, not just to ones feelings.

It’s not that way now. Now, anything defined as ‘hate’ is beyond the pale. Of course, it raises the question, who defines what is hate? The answer of course is – the powerful. Those who hold the social, media, governmental and increasingly commercial levers and who can impose their definition on everybody else.

Rather less than remarkably, the definition of hate by the powerful is expanded to encompass all opinions that are held to be disagreeable to the current zeitgeist. As a result, we find that we are fast losing our previously treasured freedom of speech.

This is no blessing to anybody, whichever side you find yourselves on the current cultural discussions of the day. One day you may bask in the righteousness of the mob, the next day you may find yourselves instead the subject of their wrath. The only escape is to turn yourself into a moral chameleon, which is the way of the coward.

This is the era in which we find ourselves. Much like I observed with Tolerance, Diversity and Inclusion, it is often those who are most anti ‘hate speech’, who are themselves full of hatred for others.

To be a Christian, in fact to be anyone who holds a principled moral worldview that is at odds with the latest correct opinion, is to ask for trouble. But then, this is nothing new.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16 v33 b

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A heart for the lost

I perceive the tear that runs down the face of God. The sorrow for the multitude that turn their faces and hearts away from Him and pierce themselves with so, so many griefs.

The pain for those that remain on the ship of the world as it founders, dragged nearer and nearer to a lee shore.

He does not wish it.
He does not desire it.
He would welcome us home in a heartbeat.
But many will not – and are wrecked on the rocks of sin.
Just a few turn, and find life.

Sit with Him a while today, and let your heart beat in time with His. Take on just a little of His Spirit, that you may know how much He loves you, and how much He loves the world.

His the heart that knows the Golgotha road, a road He invites us to travel too, that we might be with Him. A heart that reaches out still, to call us Home.

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The Salt of the Earth

I’ve had this post sitting in draft for a couple of months; I’m usually wary about wading into the tribal wasteland of politics, and as such it never seemed quite the right time to publish it. Nevertheless, after my post last week regarding the dissolution of marriage, this seemed the right time.

Recently, I was considering John the Baptist, a man who was willing to put his neck on the block – literally:

For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Mark 6 v 17-18

This man, the greatest born of women, imprisoned and eventually executed for the temerity of challenging what the leader of the time was doing in his private life.

Now, let us bring this to the current day. Can you imagine any Church authority being willing to make a similar pronouncement to the current leader of the United Kingdom? Willing to stand up, against both the enmity of the secular leadership and the opprobrium of the nation, to speak Gods truth? To follow Jesus Christ in his teaching?

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 19 v 4-9

Who would actually be brave enough to do this, to stand up and risk all social standing, to be ostracised and condemned? To speak a truth and bring into the light a behaviour that diminishes us all?

However, this is not just a matter of leadership. Are we not all to be salt and light? For, if not:

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Matthew 5 v13

These are hard words. But they need to be, and we need to hear them – again and again. For friendship with the world is enmity with God. And failing to speak the truth, to go along with the status quo – however easy that may be – is friendship with the world.

In a culture that is increasingly unmoored from the Rock that used to underpin it, we all have this choice – and it will become increasingly stark.

Do we go along with the world, keep silent, acquiesce, for fear of being judged, ridiculed, persecuted? Or do we find the courage to be prophets to our culture, to stand up, and speak the truth of God into the soul of our nation? At whatever cost? Indeed, it may well prove to be a Jeremiah mission. But perhaps that is what the Church will need to be in the coming season.

We were never promised an easy ride. Indeed it is entirely the opposite.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10 v 16-28

So let’s not pretend otherwise. To live in this world, to be salt and light where we live, will become an increasingly hard task, and will require a choice about who we are going to serve.

We will perhaps come to know, in a deeper and more real way the truth of these words:

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10 v 32-37

To be the salt of the earth is to be despised by men, and loved by God. That is the choice that lies before us, and silence and acquiescence will not prove a sufficient shield. We will all have to make this choice. Choose wisely.

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The dissolution of marriage

This week in the United Kingdom, MPs backed the first stage of the introduction of a no-fault divorce law. From what I can see , socially it seems to have significant support. After all, who would be against reducing conflict, making a painful time easier for all parties? For all parties that matter, anyway.

We’re told that it will benefit children, who will no longer have to suffer the pain of bickering parents. Now, I know there are certain situations where that may indeed be the case – but there are many where it will not be. When children are left bereft of their security – stripped of a father or mother – tell them that it is better! They know the truth, and have to live the rest of their lives with it. But they are little, unformed and helpless. They don’t get a voice.

Having bought into the lie of ‘happily ever after’, we seem to have devolved further and have now bought into ‘unhappily ever after’ instead. There is this assumption that because a marriage is in a rocky place and that ‘happily ever after’ did not work, that somehow ‘unhappily ever after’ must be the new truth. Since one was shown to be false, why on earth should the second be true?

Both are ridiculous nonsense that we seem to have somehow absorbed without ever really thinking through. I mean, it doesn’t work that way in any other human relationship, right? Sometimes things go well, sometimes we have struggles, and then often we can work through that. Conflict is part of human existence.

I do understand there are some serious cases that require separation and divorce. I am not ignoring the reality of physical and emotional abuse. But it seems to me that for the sake of the great god Me, Myself and I, we often conflate things like ‘s/he is being mean to me’ or ‘I just don’t feel like I love him/her any more’ with these much harder cases.

This is of course entirely congruous with the pagan and dissolute society in which we live, so it should come as no surprise. Marriage is being steadily reduced to what now seems like a social ‘boy/girlfriend+’ status.

So, here’s my thought, something maybe to ponder. For centuries, the state and church has pretty much marched in lockstep regarding marriage. Over maybe the last 100 years, that has slowly and now more rapidly changed. To the point where what the state and society regard as marriage has become a weak imitation of what the Church has traditionally practiced.

At what point do we cut the increasingly frayed link between the two? To state most clearly that what the church calls marriage is no longer reflected in the anemic social contract that the state has substituted?

That if you want to get married – truly married in the eyes of God and His Ekklesia on earth, you marry in the church. And in doing so, you are making a commitment to each other and to the wider community which recaptures something that is increasingly being lost – fidelity, trust, hope, sacrifice, honour, through good times and bad, together, until death us do part.

This form of true marriage could then be severed from the state legal apparatus. This would require the Church standing up, and entering into our authority – to bind and loose on earth and heaven. To regard our duty before God as higher than our duty to the state. To proclaim a marriage that has deep meaning; not one derived from the state, from tax codes or legal systems.

I know that such a separation would require thinking through much more deeply than one post can discuss. It’s part of a tension – how to be in but not of the world? At what point do we as the Church say to the world that what they have redefined marriage to mean is no longer something we can support? Are we there yet?

Postscript – a little more on the essential inequality of marriage.

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The hope of the heart

Many years ago, I had a good friend, let us call him James. James was the dearly beloved pastor of our church, and had walked together with the community through all kinds of blessings and challenges, on both a personal and corporate level. We often shared key high days and holidays and he and his household, together with other deep connections in our church, were something like family to us.

So, it came as a deep shock to us when, one day, James asked us for a meeting during which he excitedly told us he was going to join another denomination and would be leaving us. The denomination in question isn’t overly important here, other than to say it was one with which we had some serious doctrinal issues.

When we got over the initial shock, we wanted to understand what had motivated him to make such a radical change, in particularly without discussing with friends. But, to our dismay, it did not prove possible to have a meaningful conversation. His mind was completely made up, and any conversation was as if through a one-way valve – seeking to convert us to his viewpoint.

Shortly after, he left the church, and suffice to say unfortunately our friendship became rather strained. Over the subsequent months we sought to understand what had happened, and eventually we came to the thought that this was really about matters fundamental to the heart. Even though I have intentionally obscured the story, I will not divulge what I believe those matters were, though they were not something bad in and of themselves.

However, as a result of that time, it brought me to a deeper appreciation of how our heart drives us. How we can make a decision in our heart for reasons that we perhaps don’t really understand, and then we employ all the extensive resources of our mind in defence and justification of that decision.

It is not for no reason that God says:

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17 v 9

And also:

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4 v 23

We often think that we control our heart, that we can make the decisions and our heart will follow along. Sometimes, maybe that is true. But do not be deceived, for it is so often not the case.

I want to be good, until I encounter urges in my heart that corrode my very being.
I want to be holy, until I encounter other people.
I want to do the right thing, until someone needs to take the garbage out.

St Paul understood:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Romans 7 v 15

In the rest of Romans 7, Paul goes on to talk about what is today an unpopular concept – sin! He knows that “good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” And it is this law of sin, our DNA of rebellion, our heart sickness, that is still responsible for the darkness and marring of the world.

Secret sins are corrosive, our hidden idols reach out to claim what is not theirs, and false doctrine and perversion of truth comes from men trying to justify themselves and their unrighteous pleasures.

And what is interesting, much like God confirmed Pharaoh’s hard heart after the first 5 plagues, so does He confirm the lie within those who have ‘pleasure in unrighteousness’.

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

2 Thessalonians 2 v 11-12

And don’t be deceived by the ‘them’. The them is also us, in our base nature.

In our popular movies, traditionally we identify with the ‘good guy’. Nobody wants to identify as the villain! It is a strange thing then that, in the vista that God presents over the millennia, in all the stories, that we are almost completely identified as the rebels. The ‘good guys’ are few and far between , and usually fatally flawed themselves.

Well, this is all a bit of a downer isn’t it? For sure. But until we have plumbed the depths of the illness , correctly diagnosed and accepted it, we can’t really move forward. Without understanding the very deceitfulness of our hearts, the likelihood is that we will continue to try to blame others, blame our environment, minimise our faults and continue to whitewash the tottering walls that we constantly erect.

We won’t get anywhere until we can agree with G K Chesterton who, when asked “What’s wrong with the world today?” was able to answer “I am.”

When we can get there, when we reach rock bottom and stretch out our hands and plead for help (real help not help* (*conditions apply)) – when we know there is nothing we can do in ourselves to push back our darkness – then comes something new.

For God also says something else about the heart:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36 v 26

And this is the essence of the Christian message, that

because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2 v 4-9

This is the hope of the heart, that God takes our darkness and sinfulness into himself, and replaces it with light, grace, peace, mercy and love. And this is not of our doing, but by grace alone.

One last thought. How may these things be? If you are like me, you may be tempted to ‘help’ in the process. And by that I mean, take ownership. If so, hear this:

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Philippians 2 v13

That is to say, it is God’s good work in us. Fur sure, we need to be obedient to the work, but it is His work. One he will complete over a lifetime.

This is the hope of our hearts, that one day we will enter His presence, and find that somehow this work has been completed, and that we now fully and completely reflect Him – the author and finisher of our faith.

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Repentance in the Church and Nation

As I am somewhat sick at present, what’s sitting in a draft state will have to stay there for now. What I want to do today is link to an excellent article over on Prophecy Today. Some excerpts here, but I do encourage you to read the whole thing.

Just as almost exactly 80 years ago the heroes of Dunkirk were the little boats, perhaps today’s lockdown heroes are the faithful small groups coming together to pray.

But more broadly, denominational leaders collectively seem to be ‘on mute’, not really sure of the nature of the crisis and possibly hoping that it will all end soon and everything will carry on as before. Except it won’t.

Local church leaders need to be challenging and encouraging their congregations (and others) to repent of sin and seek the Lord while he may be found. Concerted, serious prayer and fasting is necessary and days of prayer are to be commended – but God is looking for more than mere confession of sin. He wants us truly to repent (true repentance requires action) – whether of sins of omission or commission – and then to model biblical practice, whether in the family, at church, in the marketplace or wherever else.

What is more, Covid-19 is only the harbinger of many more cataclysmic events to come (see Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation) – albeit a future that will also be characterised by great opportunity. 

I would suggest that while Covid-19 is part of God shaking all nations (including the UK), our Government in particular is also being shaken, in part because so many of us look to Government as the answer to our problems, when we should look to God.

To whom much is given, much is expected. The UK has historically been greatly used and greatly blessed by God. We are now in a very precarious place, which could become much, much worse (e.g. with the collapse of sterling, indeed possibly of our whole economy and body politic too). The urgency of the hour is critical – but what will it take for the Church to lead the way for the country as a whole in the sort of repentance that God requires?

God has brought us out of Egypt (the EU) for more than this. Soon we will reach a crossroads, where the signposts read ‘Back to Egypt’, ‘To the Wilderness’ and ‘To the Promised Land’. We as believers need to be in the right place to pray in and help politicians make the correct decision(s).

This time, for many (though clearly not all), the lockdown has been relatively easy. It is warm and there is food and water. But if we don’t engage seriously now, will God require that we have another unprecedented crisis (in much more challenging circumstances, and sooner rather than later) to get our full attention in a way that I am not convinced he currently has?

God will have his way in this nation, and if those who call themselves his people do not do as he requires, he will find someone else. In this war with Covid-19, it is time for the true Church to arise.

The question I have in my mind is, how to get the Church listening? Today, I was acting as technical support for a family member whose email wouldn’t send at all, but kept going to their local Junk folder.

Maybe that is an analogy for what’s happening in the Church! It feels a bit like the prophetic message isn’t even getting out of our own ‘junk folder’ to be received by the intended recipient. While we as the wider Church body are bombarded with so much mail, some urgent, some not, some true, some false, that any message may be drowned out even if it did end up in the correct inbox.

I do understand that our responsibility is to speak as we are called – and it is in God’s hands how that ends up getting disseminated. But at the same time I wonder – how should this kind of message be effectively ‘sent’ – heard – even if it is only then actually received by a few?

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Elijah and the Famine

Today I finally read an old email received September last year containing an article that has synergy with my last two posts. God has His timing in all things! From what I can tell, this was originally posted in 2008:

by Dale Garris.

“And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me.  And all the people came near unto him.  And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” – 1 Kings 18:30

Just a few years before this showdown on Mount Carmel, Israel had been lush with prosperity and wealth.  King Ahab had led the Israelites on a path that led farther away from the old, established worship of God than any before him, and had brought them to a life of riches, prosperity, and licentiousness. 

The gods that he and his wife Jezebel had enticed the people of God with appealed to their earthly and fleshly desires. No longer did they have to be constricted with an old religion that demanded holiness and the fear of the Lord. No longer did they have to lead a life of separation from the things of the world that other, more prosperous nations enjoyed. They could enjoy the prosperity and fullness of riches without the constraints of a religion that had become outmoded and old-fashioned.

Life was good.  So when Elijah pronounced the judgments of God upon Israel, they laughed him out of the king’s court.  The true prophets of God had been eradicated from the public place and were no longer a thorn in the side of everyone who wanted the rewards of love, peace, and prosperity. You were no longer allowed to mention the name of Jehovah, much less pray to him in a public place. They now had priests and prophets of Baal that had replaced those old critical and judgmental men who had caused such consternation in the land.

Elijah had stood as the one, lone voice who cried for a return to righteousness. 

And who was this hairy old man?  He didn’t seem to be of any real consequence.  He had no credentials, no theological bearing, and no consequential importance.  Even his dress revealed his lack of social prominence and his irrelevance in such a modern, sophisticated time as this.

Ahab’s ears may have been deaf to Elijah’s pronouncement, but when Elijah spoke, God listened.  The Ahab’s court may have derided him with laughter as he stood before the king, but 3 years later, no one was laughing.

We have followed a course similar to the one that Ahab had led Israel down. The Gospel we listen to is far different than the Gospel our grandfathers believed in. We decry the old brush arbor revivalists as hard, judgmental men who did not understand the love of God, and we have traded their message of repentance and holiness for one that is a kinder, gentler approach which promises love and peace and prosperity. 

But the love, peace, and prosperity that our modern prophets have promised us are but a worldly shadow of that which God offers us through a walk of righteousness in the fear of the Lord. 

We have been like the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai – we feared and trembled at the presence of God when the mount shook with fire and smoke, but as soon as Moses departed up the mountain and we were left to our own devices, we made for ourselves a golden calf to worship in God’s place. 

I have said for 7 years now that something is coming to America that will be far worse than 9/11, but I never knew what form that judgment would take. Would it be a dirty nuclear explosion in one of our cities, or an epidemic, or some natural disaster?  We would be hurt, but it wouldn’t take long to go back to our old ways. We are the great and mighty America, and we have an innate belief that we will always bounce back and dominate.

What if it wasn’t any of those imagined disasters, but something that struck right to the heart of that which we cherish the most?

What if we lost our prosperity and wealth?  And what if it consumed every level of our society and every part of our country?

We are living in that time of drought when the ravens fed Elijah by the brook Cherith, right after he fled the king’s court. 

We look to our televangelists who promise us blessings, and refuse to consider that our lust for those promises is what has led us to this drought in the first place.  But we still flip on the TV and hope for a word of encouragement that will convince us to hang on to a Gospel that has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. And of course, they tell us exactly what we want to hear, along with an encouragement to send them your money so that God can release His blessings all over you – but never a word of reproof or repentance.

The job of a prophet is not to tell you how beloved you are, how many blessings God wants to bestow upon you, or how much love is in your church. The job of a prophet is to rebuild the old broken down altars of God and declare unto the people of God their sins and transgressions so that they may come to a place of repentance and, once again, return to the true God of Israel.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked… As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” – Rev 3:17-19


For America, you can most likely substitute your own country as appropriate.

Truth is, we never did want to listen to the message of the prophets, because it is rarely a nice, kind message. We would so often rather hear a soft message leading us down a wide paved road, gently descending to the bowels of hell.

There are few who would be willing to hear the hard message directing us to a little traveled, rough and stony mountain path. And even less who would then actually change course and head up that path.

But there will be some.

Photo by Vittorio Staffolani on
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The train vision

Recently I felt prompted to find a vision received more than a decade ago, in response to my previous post and an article I was reading here.

I saw a train (old steam powered locomotive, many carriages) racing out of a tunnel and across a wooden trestled bridge spanning a deep chasm, aiming for the tunnel on the far side. I saw the trestles begin to crumble underneath the train, and then the whole bridge collapsed, taking the train down into the depths.

I had an impression of the size, momentum, strength and ferocity of this train. And for all its strength, when faced with gravity, it was powerless to prevent its own destruction.

The train is the train of materialism, and as strong as it may appear, secure in its own power, yet will destruction be wrought upon it. The chasm is the valley of death, and all that trust to this train to get to the other side will perish.

The message, loud and clear, is to get off the train! It’s at its last stop before it runs the final mile. Do not be found on the train! Get OFF!

22nd February 2004

The urgency was clear to me then, and it is just the same now, albeit much closer to the collapse. As I said previously, we have been comfortable, secure in our riches.

Even if we don’t say it with our words, we have so often said it with our lives. In my bank balance do I trust, in these four walls do I find security, in my work is my peace. And perhaps we can add to that now – in government, in healthcare, in science is my Strong Tower, I shall not be shaken!

I look at the words I wrote in 2004 and think – how absurd, who would ever trust in materialism to cross the valley of death? And absurd it is. But so often do we ape the world and live as though this is somehow actually true. Look away, draw the blinds, and trust in the security of the carriage and the numbers that are taking the same journey as us. So many can’t be wrong, right?

In the light of our often catastrophic choice for vehicular safety, there is blessing contained within this current trouble.

It is the twilight of the current age, and we bask in its fading gleams.  Much that can be shaken, soon will be.

And perhaps, now is. And it is a shaking, not to our destruction, but to wake us up to the things that truly matter before it is too late. A harsh but truly necessary blessing. Do we have eyes to see?

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Coronavirus perspective

Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, it might be good to get a little perspective. At the time of writing, approximately 250,000 people have died worldwide from this disease. While this is undoubtedly a tragedy, consider that in the same time period 340,000 have died from malaria, 580,000 have died from HIV/AIDS, 2,800,000 have died from cancer and a staggering 14,600,000 have died from abortion. These are also personal tragedies.

The point being is that death is always with us. Not one of us will escape it. And, whilst we all know this truth at some level, many of us have successfully hidden it under layers of material riches. It takes this kind of event for some to wake up to the reality of our mortality, and to begin to reach out to something beyond ourselves.

The truth is that, for many of us in the First World, we do not need God. In this, compared to many of our brothers and sisters in the Third World, we are impoverished. For they, subject to the daily realities of mortality in terms of starvation, a failing crop, the death of the breadwinner with no safety net, sickness with no affordable medical services, amongst other calamities – they are rich because in their real need of God, they cast their cares upon Him. And there is no safer place to be than in His care.

Perhaps to us at this time the message to the Church at Laodicea is apropos.

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3 v 14-22

Perhaps mixed in the midst of this current trouble is blessing, for those with eyes to see and a willingness to repent – to turn and receive true riches from the One who still loves us.

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The suffering world

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8 v 18-25

Recently I wrote on the question that is asked at times like this – Why? With that in mind, I just wanted to add a brief additional thought to that pile.

There has been so much written on the subject of suffering, and I’m not going to rehash all that. Sometimes it seems like those discussions become recursive and end up eating themselves in frustration. I do not believe we are fully equipped to even ask the right questions, let alone to contain the answers. Yet.

But there will come a time.

In the Bible that time is equated with the coming of the ‘new heavens and earth’. And you will note, that is something that the whole creation strains towards, not just us erstwhile stewards.

Why is that? I cannot say, but this I will observe. What would we – knowing what we do about ourselves, wrapped in our own greed and fears – what would we have made of a creation that was as innocent and beautiful as the original Eden?

I submit we would have made of it a hell. And so perhaps the reason that the very creation itself was subjected to such futility was in order to protect and preserve it against and for the very stewards who were intended to care for and love it.

Subjected to futility….in order that it may partake in the same hope that we have…to be liberated and brought into the freedom and glory of the Children of God.

So, in the mix of beauty and pain that defines both creation and ourselves, there is Hope. This Hope has arms, legs, and a humanity that is transformed; the first fruit of all creation. He is the everything – the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Upon Him do all things hold, and He Is Sufficient.

This is the Gospel. This is our Testimony.

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