Reality of God
I recently bought a telescope to watch the night skies. At first I was a little perplexed when the image of a tree I trained it on was upside down. On further research, it seemed that it doesn’t matter. This was an astronomical telescope, not a terrestrial one.
In space, ‘right-side-up’, north, south, east and west are irrelevant, earth-bound concepts. Just like ‘Down Under’ is a direction of geographical convenience only.
Similarly with human values and qualities, what we think important may not be so after all. The world, in its quest for the almighty dollar and the adjuncts of power and prestige, may rank intelligence and knowledge way above simple kindness and compassion. The chase can turn us into lemmings. And we all know what happens to lemmings when they come to a cliff, don’t we?
As with earth-bound perceptions, God turns such ‘man’-acled or humanity-tethered objectives on their heads. Beyond doubt a person who lacks the ability to read and write or does not possess an iota of academic prowess, may be as close or closer to God’s heart than say, the Pope (no particular offence meant here).
In the inverted and overriding reality of God’s world, it is not what you know or how much you know or even who you know that matters but whether He knows you. And God knows a man who loves Him (To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 8 : 1-3)
In the final analysis, isn’t that what counts?
What a joy it was to read in Crosslight (June) the interview with Sharon Hollis and her moderator’s column. Such positivity in every section.
Congratulations to the interviewer and Sharon herself.
Let’s thank God for such people in the Uniting Church.
“Listen and you will learn.”
As a child this was the wise advice of my late father Cliff Shaw, at the time a Lay Preacher in the then Methodist church in Romsey for 50 years from the age of 18. Prior to his passing at age 83, in 1998 he told me he only ever wanted to be remembered for two things. He never preached but rather conducted services of worship, and he never received one cent for these services.
I have been told by people who knew my father well that he would never be dead while I was alive, so have felt it only right that I do my best to continue to serve God through Lay leadership with the Uniting church. However I have become increasingly disappointed by the inability of ALL Christian churches of late to effectively connect with the genuine person hurting, or in need, which brings me back to that simple word listening.
Hugh McKay’s book Why don’t people listen?, written 20 years ago, is even more relevant today. As faceless methods of communicating continue to grow, people continue to just need someone to listen to them, which is so simple but not easy. To quote an elderly friend: “It’s not the loneliness; it’s that feeling of being forgotten.” Hearing someone is the easy bit, it’s the listening that is the difficult challenge we all face in our everyday life, so how much more difficult is it for the modern day church of today to listen if they don’t make better use of their most important asset, the good listeners that make up their congregations?
With the greatest respect to all churches, it appears to me that they are tending to become a magnet for negative-thinking people just looking for sympathy. Sympathy is the easy bit it’s the empathy that is needed. Just the mere act of sitting with someone who is hurting might be all that is needed to get them to open up and talk out their issues. They may not necessarily want a representative of a church, ie minister, elder, counsellor, but rather a good listener who genuinely cares and is very well respected by their church family. As a member of a team, and whatever good is achieved may God receive the Glory.