Thursday 03 May 2018

Bible Book:

“Each of us will be accountable to God.” (v. 12)

Romans 14:7-12 Thursday 3 May 2018

Psalm: Psalm 52


Our consideration of what it means to be ‘in Christ’, as branches of the vine, brings us to consider the manner of our engagement with people who think and act differently from us. We can see how frustrating it can be to be Christian people, with a sense of how better things can be, when forced to live with all the imperfections of the present age. We all know people whose response to this frustration is to become critical and challenging of every jot and tittle of life. Extremism is a dangerous thing though, isn’t it? We have seen atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion - the Crusades, the execution of differently-thinking Christians, the claiming of religious sides in political debates and, more recently, the extreme fundamentalist expression of Islam which tips over into terrorism. Living out the life of faith in such a manner may well give us a sense of assurance and confidence in our ‘rightness’, but it certainly does not add much to the greater good. Other Christians take a laissez-faire attitude to engagement with the wider world in the knowledge that some good might still be done amid a society which continues to search for a way through the darkness.

We have seen the Church engage with contradictory convictions about pacifism, human genetics, contraception, the ordination of women. The Methodist Church is presently considering the question of same-sex marriages. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:28). On Tuesday we were reminded, by our passage from John’s Gospel, that not only is Jesus “the way”, but he is also “the truth and the life” (John 14:6). If we are connected in Christ, as the branches are to the vine, what does it mean to live in his truth? We were reminded yesterday of the demands to hold together the expression of holiness and justice.

We must recognise the temporary nature and imperfect expression of the faith by which we live. We live between Christ and the final consummation of the kingdom that Christ came to establish. We are very much a people who are working towards, but have not yet achieved, arrival in that place to which our living in Christ leads. In the end, everything will be right, but if it is not yet completely right then maybe it is not yet the end.

To Ponder

  • How do you decide upon the boundaries of belief and action beyond which you will not go in your calling to live peaceably alongside those in the world who think and act differently from you?
  • How might you engage with those who think and act differently without compromising your faith or succumbing to extremism?
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