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Salt ànd Light: an acrostic essay. Part II

Realising that the blog entry was becoming unwieldy, I decided to break it into parts, here is Part Two.




LIGHT

Jesus said, You are the light of the world. A light in a hill cannot be hidden. To be honest, I have not decided on what each of these letters will represent so this is a voyage of discovery, as much for me, as it is for you.

Love - The core of our faith is LOVE.

It all starts with God’s love for us. Love is such a big concept that there are many words that are used. I am focussing on the big one - the God love - Greek Word - agapé. For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son, that all who believe in Him, should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Those are just three scriptures of many that state the inescapable truth that God loves You. There simply are no caveats to that statement. God loves you. NO EXCEPTIONS. I know there are many sceptics, who question the very existence of God, let alone God’s love for us. Suffering, injustice, terrorism, natural disasters, religious abuse, and people understandably question how a Loving God can allow it. I cannot explain, but all I will say that speaking personally, I know God loves me, and I believe Him when He says He loves everyone. How do we respond to God’s love. We love God. I know we are commanded to love God. To me that is the easy bit, in comparison to the second bit, to love those who God loves: that’s it - everyone, even those hard to love people.

Love must be expressed primarily in practical ways. If that practical element is missing, we can justifiably question whether the love expressed is genuine.


Browsing Facebook the other day I came across one of those irritating posts of someone holding a written board asking people to like it. This particular one made me very cross : It was a photo of a little girl, and the sign said, "Daddy said that if I get (a certain number of) likes, he will stop drinking. " I realise that many of these things are made to pull at the heart-strings, but this was ridiculous. i did not like or react electronically, but I did wonder what kind of person would do that to their child. Surely, if he was ernest he would simply stop drinking, and so I question the love that Father would have for his daughter, assuming it is true.


There are many interesting Scriptures that describe what true love looks like. There was Jesus example that demonstrated on the night before he was crucified. He washed the disciples' feet, and then there were parables. The Good Samaritan parable was told to answer the question: who is my neighbour. The parable of the Sheep and the goats.




Some might get the impression, that we  show kindness to those  who àre for one reason or another, "the least" , i.e. brought low through circumstances out of their control, have been overtaken by poverty, perhaps homeless, perhaps starving, or brought low through illness, or imprisonment, that we do this through some reluctant sense of duty, for fear of the consequences of not doing it. I dare say, that that might be the case for some people, but I wonder if you can call that love?

I must say, I find it hard to think of these people in such abject situations as "the least" . I am sure that Jesus did not wish us to look down on these people, as if we were some how better than they, as if we were "higher up the tree" than they are,  In his saying "inasmuch as you did it for the least of these brothers and sisters, you did it for me" , Jesus was saying when you look at these "down-and-outs" you are looking at me, because they are no less important to me, than you are.  It is not only about what we do for people in bad situations, but the attitude of heart with which we do it. In our giving, in our sharing, do we build up the person we are helping, or are our so called acts of charity, done to to further humiliate and debase the recipient.

Do we dish up the scraps, and plonk them on a plate, or into a plastic bag? Or do we set a place at the dining room table, and invite them to join us. Do we throw the coins onto the pavement so the beggar has to scrabble around to pick them up?  How is our hospitality when it comes to people who are in difficult circumstances. It really does not matter how it is that a man or woman, and increasingly in this time, children, find themselves in bad situations, it does not matter, whose fault it is, but it was not what Jesus was saying. He did not say feed the hungry, if it is not their fault that they are hungry. They are out brothers and sisters - it does not matter if they share our beliefs about God and Jesus, they are still family.

Politics is divided into socialist 'left wing' and conservative 'right wing'. The right wing, which often claims to be the 'godly group' will often blame the poor for their predicament, and claim that the affluent are materially rewarded for their diligence.  The characterise the poorer people as scroungers and undeserving.  The socialists, or to a more extreme extent, the communists famously have revolted against religion and faith altogether, and they, being more concerned with this life, seek equality on every level, for every individual (although even where the leaders refer to themselves as comrade, their homes are more plush than most) but the general principle of socialist society is one that seeks to share resources equally.  I do not think either side has it right. The yawning gap between the wealthiest few and the poorest many is a disgrace. On the other hand, it is fair that the harder we work, the greater should be our reward. It is finding that middle ground that is the challenge. Interestingly, countries like USSR and Eastern Block Countries like Poland, which supposedly were all about equality, did not result in a happy society. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with that model. People were constrained to certain behaviours, and ways of speaking through strict laws and harsh punishment if you broke those laws. Many of the freedoms that we take for granted in the West, were and are denied the citizens of communist countries, and even though they claimed to be democratic, often the elections were complete farces, where no real choice was offered to the people. If we bought into the propaganda, it was a perfect world where everyone shared.

However the supposed shangrila of Western democracies show a less wonderful situation, when we allow ourselves to look away from the ostentation of the cities and the plushness of the huge country estates, and see the people who fall through the cracks.  Yes, we have all sorts of freedoms in the West. We can say what we like about our political leaders and criticise them in ways that would not be çountenanced in more restrictive societies, but even though society is more free in that sense, freedoms are often curtailed through lack of resources.

What it comes down to is that inequality is a reality that we have to accept, but as Christians we should have a  different way of valuing people, that is not as better or worse, but as a fellow human, worthy of dignity and love.

Brother (Sister) let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant too.

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