Monday, 13 February 2012

No Answers?

A few days ago, me and some friends at work had an interesting discussion about the state of the world economy, global injustice and all that kind of stuff. We were all kind of agreed that capitalism has gone a a bit wrong but none of us really seemed to have any good solutions. One person astutely pointed out that it isn't capitalism per se that's the problem, it's human nature, and capitalism in its present form is just one manifestation of that. People are selfish, people are greedy and whatever systems or regulations you set up, people will always try to find a way round them. Of course, that isn't to say that you shouldn't have systems, or that you shouldn't try to regulate!

A few minutes later, as I was mulling over the conversation, I mentioned that I'd read a book when I was a teenager called, "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger", and that it had messed me up for about 10 years afterwards! The book actually affected me for a lot longer than that and it probably still does, in spite of the fact that I can no longer remember any of the contents! What I do remember though, is that it made me feel incredibly guilty about the enormous disparity between rich and poor in the world and about how much wealth I horde, when so many others are doing well even to survive. One of my friends commented - respectfully I thought! - that I obviously think a lot about these sort of things. My response was that, yes, I do think about them, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have very much in the way of answers!

I often feel that as a Christian I ought to have answers. After all, I'm promoting a message which I believe is the ultimate answer - and yet I often feel that there are so many situations that I don't really know how to apply it to, and that this answer is such a long way from being fully worked out or reflected in my own life.

Much later on the same day, I was trying to think about why I didn't know the answers, or at least still don't seem to be able to apply them to my own satisfaction, and it occurred to me again - as it often has before - that in the end I only really have one answer. It isn't another system though, or another set of rules to be followed, it's a person and his name is Jesus. The heart of my faith isn't about rules or systems, it's about an encounter and a relationship with God-who-became-flesh: God who came and lived among us and gave up his life in sacrificial death because that was the extent of his love; who has ridiculously high standards of love and justice and yet lives up to all of them; who understands and has compassion on us in all our weaknesses and failings; who loves us and wants us to change and has the grace and the patience and the ability to make that possible.

This is my answer: That when I look at my life and see the difference between the man I am and the man I'd like to be, I have only to look at the smiling face of my father in heaven to know that I will get there one day and that in the meantime I can be patient as He is with me, knowing that I am loved and accepted and that I will be forever. And the more I appreciate the depth of His love and compassion for me, the more I am able to show the same compassion towards others and to strive for love, mercy, faithfulness and justice, knowing that I am doing the work of the one who loves me and who laid down His life for me and for all those I want to reach out to.

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