Spiteful frights!

Once again the annual kowtow to everything that represents what’s wrong with our world is underway – aka H*ll*w**n.  Kids (and grown-ups) dressed-up to scare – ghosts, ghouls, goblins and all that’s ghastly.  What a tragedy that our neighbours are so ambivalent towards the Light that they masquerade as creatures, not merely of the night, but the darkest pits of hell, the antithesis and absence of God.  Just the name of this day and a brief glance at the history fills me with revulsion.

Consider the folly: with yet more real-life heartbreak happening in the world around us – a plane crashed today in the Sinai, a teen stabbed to death in an Aberdeen school earlier this week and a seemingly neverending war raging in Syria – is there not enough evil rampant on this planet without us bringing more to the party?

I yearn for a day when everyone realises that goodness is worth treasuring and celebrating with each ounce of our being and second of our time on this earth.  Lord Jesus, let your Light shine ever-brighter and drive out completely all that is dark.  May we become so sick of sin, so repulsed by wrong, so disgusted with all that’s despicable that we long only to feast on your love, rejoice in your truth and sing of your glory.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philp. 4:8)

Eternal Hope

I’ve been struggling a little recently trying to reconcile contrasting passages in the Bible that speak of the fate of our world.  On the one hand, we read of Christ returning like a “thief in the night” (1 Thes. 5:2) and “the elements will be destroyed by fire” (2 Peter 3:10), which seems to suggests a completely unexpected return of the Lord, which will suddenly sort everything out in a magnificent display of perfect justice with astonishing mercy.

On the other hand, God’s creation was “very good”, and though fallen, appears to be headed for redemption, reconciliation and recreation – “He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Col. 1:20).  We were originally commissioned as the Earth’s stewards, looking after and developing this planet’s true potential.

So is this planet destined for destruction or scheduled for saving?  Are we to merely stay pure, trusting in Christ and waiting for His return to rescue us all, or are we called to seriously engage in the process of recreation: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Sadly, I don’t know exactly how God plans to close the page on finite human history.  However, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m far safer believing that, somehow, this actual world is being saved and I am part of the journey.  Rather than close my eyes to the chaos of that dominates our news, whether bitter conflict in Syria or another mass murder in America, the frittering away of our planet’s resources on frivolities or the rampant pollution flowing into our oceans, I am called and empowered by Christ Jesus to take a stand against the onslaught to evil.  I must fight for truth, reach out with love and pray for peace.

Maybe the other-worldliness and retreat from reality that has so often characterised Christianity – think cloistered monks living in the middle of nowhere and refusing to engage with broken societies – has actually delayed Christ’s return.  Have we allowed this planet to reach the brink of destruction because we’ve been waiting for the Saviour who has already given us everything we need to complete His mission?

You see, if I sit back and assume that God has got it covered, just think about all the terrible consequences.  Yet, every effort I expend in making earth more like heaven is a living testimony to those who don’t yet believe and desperately need the grace only Christ can give.  I take a much graver risk by doing nothing.

What keeps me going?  Well, I know heaven is better by far:

  • As worship with God’s people on earth is profoundly satisfying, then praising Christ Jesus with all the hosts of heaven will be more thrilling still
  • As our hearts burn within us whenever the Scriptures are opened, all truth will be even more tremendous
  • As the glory of a sunset stirs us now, what will the beauty of the new heaven and earth be like?
  • As cross-cultural fellowship excites us now, how much more being part of the great multitude beyond counting from every tribe, tongue and nation?
  • As sometimes we “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”, we shall revel in delight where there is neither sorrow, nor tears.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Sherlock: hero or villain?

I’ve been very impressed by the BBC’s modern recreation of Sherlock Holmes as Benedict Cumberbatch.  What struck me today was how he successfully unites in one character traits that provoke our admiration and censure.

We look up to him as a paragon of detective excellence, effortlessly piecing together the parts of a fiendishly complex puzzle and cracking the “impossible” case.  We’re awed by his leaps of logic that leave others flummoxed and wondering why they couldn’t think of that.  In terms of pure, raw intelligence, he is breathlessly exciting and stunningly triumphant.

Yet, we simultaneously feel superior, even look down on him, as socially incompetent: crassly denigrating those who should be his closest friends and deserve a level of respect.  His stinging put downs make us wince.  His cruel “using” of others, particularly females who are deeply attracted to him, in order to further his own ends, is reprehensible and a clear character flaw.

Surely, this melange is what makes viewing the drama so compulsive?  If he was merely one or the other, we would quickly lose interest, but because he can simultaneously cut the Gordian knot of any crime scene and Medusa-like freeze others to stone, we wait eagerly to see what he will do next.  Of course, Sherlock is definitely not a villain – he is too committed to using his powers for good and implacably resists the temptations of evil, which is obviously crucial in retaining our sympathy.

So, I struggle to think of any other hero who holds in tension such extremes.  Can you think of any?  What do you think of Sherlock Holmes?