Do you have a reliable source of information?
A unique way of timekeeping was discovered in Cape Town. From the foot of Table Mountain, a gun would be fired at noon. An observer watching the two gunners fire the cannon wondered how they knew when to fire it as they had no watch or radio. They pointed to a mounted telescope and explained that they could see a clock in a jeweller’s shop window, declared to be the finest clock in the Cape.
Later in the day the observer found himself in town by the jewellers and so went to ask about this fine clock and was told it was imported from Amsterdam in the 19th century and was the finest timepiece in South Africa. The observer asked how the clock was kept in good time and the shopkeeper explained it was a straightforward procedure. He set the clock by the sound of the noonday gun across the valley.
I’m sure that you’ve spotted the fatal flaw in that process! Being without an outside reference point means we can’t know what is beyond ourselves unless someone comes to tell us.
God has come into our world in Jesus to show us what he is like, he reveals our need, he shows us that we cannot meet our own needs ourselves, we need someone from outside our situation.
Christians look to God to for their ‘reference point’ and in scripture find his word to be truth about God, about ourselves, about our needs and about God’s remedy for our condition.
Many people like to talk about Christian values and though values such as love and justice are common to all peoples they are claimed as ‘Christian’, but what makes any ‘value’ Christian? Discuss. Sometimes I reflect that we don’t often recognise honesty as a good starting point for talking about Christian values, perhaps as it challenges us so deeply. We claim the value of love and yet find ourselves saying, “I hate so and so”. At that point some honesty would be a good thing, to admit and accept that we have failed in living up to the values in which we believe, proclaim and fail to fulfil.
When we say our Confession in church I am grateful for these and other words by which I acknowledge my sin to God
“Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault….”
In the Bible, God says look outside your own reference point of self-righteous living and be honest! See your need, common to all, of God’s mercy that is freely offered to all who would be honest with God.
The Bible reveals God to be perfect in all he is and does and requires people to be the same, at which point I think we see we have not met the mark, though relative to other people we might not be too bad! God is perfect in power, love and judgement and yet full of compassion and mercy and because of his love for us came into the world in Jesus Christ to “save sinners” .
My God grant us the humility to receive his grace and love, forgiveness and kindness, as understood from his perspective, which is truer than ours.