On my holidays I spent some time with Face Book and I learned things – not everything, but I learnt to do a few things and I had some surprises. I posted some holiday snaps and in the process I found I had quite a few Face book ‘friends’.
At first glance it seems as if everyone on Face book is happy – frequently eating and drinking and often at parties. As well as their smiling faces some of my internet friends sent me proverbs - wise sayings – posters - all about living a fulfilling life and overcoming difficulties. Three of my friends sent me this one.
But I suspect there is a catch!
Some of my Face Book ‘friends’ are well known to me. I happen to know that despite their smiling FB pictures they are not always smiling. They have pain, disappointment, hurt and resentment. – just like the rest of us. Their lives are more complicated than their Face Book image would suggest.
I looked up the particular poster I refer to above. It has gone viral on Google. However most of the mentions are in the catalogues of home decorators. People are buying this collection of wise sayings to hang on the walls of their homes or display in the entrance porch of their homes.
What do you think? If you have these precepts in plain view in your house will this lead to a happy home? Hmmm! Almost all nations on earth have signed up to the Charter of the United Nations with it’s pledge to work for the cessation of war and the provision of human rights for everyone. It is an inspiring and lofty creed. But look at the news of the day, any day and what do we see? My point is that having wonderful words in front of you does not automatically lead to the application of these words. Something more is needed.
I was thinking of all of this as I was preparing to do my bit in the wedding service of Peter and Cheryl. One of their chosen readings was from I Corinithians 13.
4 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. 8 Love is eternal.
Who can quarrel with that? It is a hymn to love in its purest form. For this reason it appears in many wedding services, and most wedding services that take place in a church. Along with millions of other Christians I know the words by heart. But as my loved ones can testify there are many times when I don’t live up to these concepts. I am not always patient. I am often irritable and despite my best efforts I do keep a record of wrongs.
In saying this I am simply asserting that it is one thing to have nice words in your memory or hanging in your entrance porch and altogether another thing to live up to them.
Actually, this is one of the reasons I come to church.
A core concept of the Christian faith is ‘all have sinned’. Or to put it another way – all of us at times fail to live up to what we believe is right and to live up to our potential. At times all of us are willful and selfish. The corollary to this in the Christian faith is that in Jesus, through Jesus, we are all forgiven. So after a trying week and one in which I have been trying, annoying, unfair to those closest to me, in the act of Christian worship and in the place of Christian worship – one way or another – it may be in words, or music or just in the atmosphere, I am reminded of these things. I am empowered to take a deep breathe, say I am sorry and start again. It’s like hitting the ‘reset’ button in my heart.
Those sublime words of Paul are not based on a quiet muse he had one day. They are based on his experience of Jesus. They are based in the reality of his faith. The way I see it is that it is completely legitimate to replace the word ‘love’ in this passage with ‘Jesus’. In fact I often insert my name as well. You may like to insert your name. Here is what I mean:
STANLEY – JESUS is patient and kind WITH YOU; STANLEY – JESUS does not keep a record of YOUR wrongs; STANLEY – JESUS is not happy when you fail – STANLEY, JESUS always belives the best about you. STANLEY – JESUS never gives up ON YOU - STANLEY – JESUS love for you is eternal.
It works for me and it benefits everyone in my circle of relationships – at least until the next time. It could be worth a try. It may work for you.
This is what I believe. None of us can ever live up to our loftiest aspirations all the time. We all need some way to take stock, acknowledge where we have gone wrong and have a way of pressing a reset button that will enable us to start again. Finding how to do this is an important part of every human journey. How you do this is up to you. I have been glad to share how I do it.
Treasure those sayings and slogans that challenge you to be your best. Don’t give up when fail and fall. Look for a reset button and start again!
September 27 2015
- On the occasion of the wedding of Cheryl Mostert and Peter Peeters and the baptism of Conrad Kirkham