Monday, 8 October 2012

Two Sentences

Our Curate posed this question yesterday: "If you had to present the gospel in just two sentences, what would you say?"

Aha, I thought, from my nice safe seat near the back (have to be able to get out in a hurry in case the girls need me, don't you know?), that's easy.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." and maybe, Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Except, oops, that's three sentences not two.

So then more verse from the bible, passages from the creed, liturgy we rarely use any more started floating through my mind.

The 4Points have it down fairly pat (and some groovy sweatshirts):
  • God loves me
  • I have sinned
  • Jesus died for me
  • I need to decide to live for God
Now technically; technically - that's only one sentence. Less than one sentences since there doesn't appear to be any punctuation at all. And it's all very glib, and it's probably the shortest answer to "Teacher, what must I do to be saved?"

But I started thinking about who might actually be reading these two sentences. And I thought about the people I speak to most often, the people I spend the most time with. Friends, family, support staff. And I realised they've all, probably, heard these words a thousand times before.

So what would I say if I knew this were going to be the very last chance I'd ever have to say anything at all to them?

And that's a harder question, because the temptation would be to keep to "Goodbye, take care, I love you." Keep it casual, keep it light, or take it deeper, but still only surface deep. There is, after all, an enormous arrogance in starting a conversation which aims to bring up something along the lines of "Look, I'm saved, you're not; I'm right and you're wrong, fall down on your knees and repent for the end is nigh!" May God forgive me for the times I've ending up running down those lines. And may He also forgive me for the times when I've let the fear of sounding arrogant get in the way of speaking the Truth.

Because the truth is; I'm a very long way off perfect. There are logs in my eyes bigger than the Titanic, and capable of causing even more destruction. I am not patient, I do not have a proper and Godly amount of self control; I shout far too often for my own peace of mind (and possibly that of my neighbours' too). I'm way too happy when bedtime comes. I enjoy that chocolate-fudge-brownie-with-a-side-order-of-gingersnap-biscuit-and-maybe-a-small-helping-of-chickencasserole,asparagus-risotto,-ooo-another-couple-of-roast-potatoes-and-a-large-bowl-of-rice-pudding,-why-not far far too much, and dislike really quite intensely the thought of any of the exercise which might help burn it all off. My house is messy, and I'd far rather read a book or write a blog than do anything about that. And that's just the stuff I'm willing to share.

And with all of that, how can I possibly turn around to anyone at all and suggest I've got something they need? Especially if they don't know they need it? When a friend says they go to church because it's the right thing to do, but they don't believe in all of that stuff, and yet they busy themselves in church life(Not our church!) to the point of spending most of their time in church activities, serving those in need, helping out wherever most necessary, how dare I suggest that perhaps they should listen to the sermons from time to time?

When a friend has been deeply and seriously hurt by The Church in the past, how can I presume to suggest that hope may be found in that same place?

And the answer is, of course, I can't. We, the people who make up The Church, are broken, fallible, sinful, imperfect, flawed. There's nothing about me which is intrinsically better or worse than anyone else. I was born with the same balance of good bits and bad bits, and the same need to work things out. My own bad things might be different from yours, or they might be the same, but they're all still there. Perhaps there are those out there who don't struggle with something in their lives, but I've not found that person yet.

And so maybe that's the answer. It isn't about me. It isn't about looking at me, measuring my life against yours, or yours against mine. It's all about God. And if I measure my life up against God, I come quite a long way short. As do the most annoyingly perfect of my friends, Christian and non-Christian alike. We might be "not that bad", but nothing short of utter perfection, in everything, is ever going to be good enough. Happily, God loves me anyway. Jesus loves me, this I know, not because the Bible tells me so, but because His still small voice whispers to me when I open my ears to hear.  And I am His; and being His doesn't insulate me from any of the horrors of this world, but it does mean I am never ever facing them alone. And that Eternal Life bit; well that sounds pretty good too. Eternity spent at the feet of the One who loves me the most, or Eternity spent alone? I know which I'd prefer.

So perhaps my two sentences come down to this. "Jesus loves you and me, more deeply than you can ever imagine, no matter what we ever have done or ever will do, and there are no limits to what He can and has done for us." And "So what can we do in return?"


Anonymous said...

well said. Debra

Tina said...

I thank God for you daily. I'm do glad to call you my friend. God speaks through you, to me so often.
I love you.

Alesha said...

A beautiful summation, my friend!!!



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