Thought for the Week 20/09/21 

Heart glasses

The Second Greatest Commandment

Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Mark 12:31
A group of kids will love this game. You stand in a circle and a message is whispered to one. That child then whispers the message to the next in line and so on. The results can be hilarious. Inevitably someone mishears the whispered message and so the whole meaning gets changed.
What starts out as ‘We’re going on a picnic’ can become ‘Wear pink shoes.’ A misheard word here. And a missing word there. And suddenly everything changes.
So, what about the greatest commandment? One of the teachers of the law, who knew there were lots and lots and lots of laws, wanted Jesus to answer this question: which of all these commandments is the most important?
What did Jesus say?
The most important one is this:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
However, Jesus didn’t stop there.
“The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
Loving our neighbour makes good sense. Surely any good follower of Jesus would want to be kind and caring towards those we encounter.
Only that’s not entirely what it says – is it?
Many of us have been mishearing Jesus for too long.
Jesus actually said – love your neighbour as yourself.
C. S Lewis pointed out that this is, ‘a horrible command, if the self were simply to be hated.’
Loving ourselves seems to go against the grain.
Aren’t we to be humble? Doesn’t the Bible say, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last”? (Matthew 20:16) Should we not always give out and rarely take in?
Many of us are harsh on ourselves. We never consider our work to be done. Rarely do we feel content or happy with ourselves. We could always do better. Praise is to be deflected and batted away as quickly as possible. The impact on our wellbeing is huge. Our hearts grow colder and colder.
We’re not good enough. We never could be good enough. We could always do better than this.
John Eldredge writes, “The difficult truth we don’t want to admit is this: the way you treat your own heart is the way you’ll end up treating everyone else’s.”
Seeking more of God. Learning to care for your soul. Showing your self-kindness can transform the way you live.
It doesn’t gloss over sin. Rather it recognises God’s great love for you. You are truly loved. If God considered you to be so valuable that Jesus died for you – should you not also consider yourself to have value?
Paul wrote, “You were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
You and I are of immense value to God. We matter. And because we matter so too do others.
This week love God. Love your neighbour. And don’t forget to also love yourself.

Keith Wilson, 21/09/2021

Thought for the Week 13/09/21 


Creation Care

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2: 15
The news about our planet isn’t good.
“Hottest year on record”
“Emissions fuelling climate change”
“Rainforest destruction accelerating”
Such gloomy headlines are set to increase as the UK gets ready to host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the parties in Glasgow in November. It’s interesting to note that this is the 26th conference attempting to put things right – or at least not make things worse.
To deal well with a problem you sometimes must go right back to the beginning.
The beginning of life.
The origins of humanity.
Genesis is covered in controversy.
Did God really make the world?
Are we talking 7 days as in real time days? Or are we talking GT (God Time) rather than GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) in terms of time scales?
In our culture some of the clever claim God had nothing to do with creation.
Which puts them at odds with Genesis.
Genesis never sets out the scientific case for creation. Those details are left for us to explore and uncover.
Rather the author repeats again and again: God said – and it was so.
As the psalmist put it: The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1)
God made the earth and everything in it. The world and all who live in it.
Abraham Kuyper wrote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign overall, does not cry, mine!”
Which makes the words of Genesis 2:15 even more amazing: God enables us to work this earth and take care of it.
Is there here a pre fall picture of God the creator working alongside us – the created – to care for creation.
Sin breaks up our relationship with God. It also causes greed. Unfairness. Carelessness. And potentially the destruction of the only home we have.
It would be good for us to pray that our global leaders will gather prepared to take some big steps to care better for our world.
And as we do so may we also consider what little steps we might take to care for God’s creation. 

Keith Wilson, 14/09/2021

Thought for the Week 06/09/21 

Off to work

Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to work we go!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed….” Colossians 3:17
According to Walt Disney, Snow White encountered 7 people who appeared to enjoy their work. Whether they were Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, Dopey, Happy or Doc it appeared that work in the mines made them happy enough to sing.
“Hi ho! Hi ho! It’s off to work we go.”
Is this you on a Monday morning? Singing with delight because you’re off to work? Or school? Or daily chores?
What do you do though when work feels like…well…hard work? Perhaps there are situations where you work that are less than ideal and it feels as though being at work is quite tough. Or maybe you find yourself wondering if what you’re doing is really worthwhile?
The pressures of work. The demands of life. People to see. Places to be. Even our time off can feel full on.
How do we keep going when we feel like giving up?
Dave Smith writes: “For those of us who are Christians, the answer is by living our whole lives in gratitude to the God who has called us, knowing that ultimately, He will reward us.”
Living our whole lives in gratitude to God.
Paul summarises it this way: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ (Colossians 3:17)
In our list there was one name missing – Grumpy. I have to admit that I can be a bit grumpy at times.
So, here’s a challenge for those of us who grump, complain and fold our arms just a little too much.
Don’t be a grumpy!
Can we live with an attitude of gratitude?
It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t limit this attitude to religious duties of church activities. Instead, Paul speaks about ‘giving thanks to God’ in ‘whatever you do.’
Don’t be a grumpy!
Can we give thanks to God when we’re at church? A church service is not a performance to be critiqued but an invite to participate.
Don’t be a grumpy!
Can we give thanks to God when we’re out in the community?
With our families?
And at the places such as work where we spend so much of our time?
Paul continues: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3: 23-24)
Whatever we do. Wherever God has called us. Let’s adopt an attitude of gratitude and serve as though it is Jesus we are serving.
May God bless you in this week ahead.

Keith Wilson, 07/09/2021