Because of the lowly background I come from, I have for a long time believed completely in equality, fairness and democracy; they are not just words, cosy platitudes bandied around by politicians on the make, they are or should be the very essence of the Western nations many of us live in. Believing in such things such as fairness means very probably that we don’t otherwise harm other people, and we have a healthy and balanced outlook when it comes to our needs, and the needs of other people. We don’t have to negate our needs and wants completely and just think solely about someone else, but we can be honest about them whilst accepting that other people have needs and wants exactly like us. In Britain, we have lived for a long time under a class system, a system which heavily infers that the higher up the scale you are perceived to be, the more worthy and important you are. As you go lower down the scale, the less important you are meant to be. Anyone who is honest will say that class, like racism or in fact any division between humans, is institutionalised injustice. If we turn a blind eye to one injustice, eventually we will probably turn a blind eye to others.
It’s not special rights most people want, it’s equal rights people want and cry out for. The class system, just like racism, sexism and other prejudices is ultimately a hierarchy of worth, an unfair system imposed on people where those at the top and in the middle are seen as worthy of consideration but usually those perceived to be at the bottom are seen as unworthy. Until we tackle this in Britain, we will remain a backward third-rate nation, forever losing any status in the world we might have.
My belief is that each person was created especially by God; there is in truth no inferior person and there is in truth no superior person. Even this to some English people is a revelation! But I believe that one of God’s gifts to those who live as Christians, is a genuine equality. ‘There is no favouritism with God.’ (Romans 2:11 NJB) Yes, often Christianity is about the seeming great and good, and about important affairs and important people; but often what we are seeing is the world appropriating religion, using what is good to excuse the vices and the abuse of power that makes up much of the reality of this often unfair, divided and unjust world. But, is this really Christianity? Kings and queens, popes and the high and the mighty? It was in essence the powerful religious authorities who had Jesus put to death; yes, those who had power and claimed to be religious were the very people who rejected and murdered Him. We should all remember that. One day, God will fairly and completely impartially judge all of humanity; those who abuse power and harm or ruthlessly exploit other people may well come unstuck in the next life; we should all remember that too.
If we could talk about issues, if we could all talk openly about class, racism, all the differences that exist between people, we might all come to some truth, some real conclusions, we might all stop hiding behind masks, masks of superiority, masks of toughness, masks of anger, all kinds of masks that actually make us less than we could be; then we might find the truth, that we are all in fact only human beings.
Kind of Blue
I have written about this before, but as it is something often on my mind, I am going to write about it again. I am a Christian, not a ‘holy Joe’ or anything like that, just an ordinary person who walks with the Lord on a daily basis. I love secular things though, I love all kinds of movies, all kinds of subjects which I often read about and I love all kinds of music. Once, I used to dislike Jazz a whole lot and had very little time for it; it seemed pretentious, overblown, often unmelodic and the sort of thing pseudo-intellectuals would go on and on about and bore anyone to death unlucky enough to encounter them! Then came ‘Kind of Blue’ by Miles Davis. This was a revelation to me. The music is so profound, so rounded, so full of creativity and life and passion, that I was, and remain, hooked immediately. I wonder whether I am loving things of the world too much, and yet at the same time feel that if we like something, be it a type of food, a particular climate or country, a person, or indeed a movie or type of music, we just can’t help the fact that we like it. You can’t pretend not to like hot cherry pie and vanilla ice cream if you do, that would be silly wouldn’t it? How can we pretend not to like Bacardi and Coke if we really like it? ‘One person may have faith enough to eat any kind of food; another, less strong, will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat freely are not to condemn those who are unwilling to eat freely; nor must the person who does not eat freely pass judgement on the one who does -- because God has welcomed him.’ (Romans 14:2-3 NJB) Perhaps it is all a matter of faith, of asking God about these things, and perhaps it is also a matter of all things in moderation too.
We all have our own lives to live. We should think about everything we do, everything we like, and even the things we don’t like. Are we so certain when we condemn others for being this or being that, that we aren’t being hyper-critical or judgemental, when we should merely be kind and compassionate? I believe that God created us for a life of genuine peace, happiness, joy unending and to live in harmony with other people. It doesn’t mean we have a right to impose our will or ideas on anyone else. There are many Christians who hold to different things, who belong to different denominations and different traditions; we are all different in fact; vive la difference! ‘The one who makes special observance of a particular day observes it in honour of the Lord. So the one who eats freely, eats in honour of the Lord, making his thanksgiving to God; and the one who does not, abstains from eating in honour of the Lord and makes his thanksgiving to God…Why, then, does one of you make himself judge over his brother, and why does another among you despise his brother? All of us will have to stand in front of the judgement-seat of God: as scripture says: By my own life says the Lord, every knee shall bow before me, every tongue shall give glory to God.’ (Romans 14:6,10-11 NJB)
Que Sera Sera
Lord, Lord, what will tomorrow bring?
Today I felt an arrow stinging in a wound so deep,
My eyes refuse to weep.
What will tomorrow bring?
No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and I believe this is a blessing. The future holds many things for us, and for Christians who stay true to God, the future is bright with very good prospects. Many of us in today’s economic climate however feel that there is no real future, and those like myself born to poor parents and the poorer Working classes may feel despair at ever escaping poverty and all that goes with that. Even when a poor person does get a job it’s often that the wages are low, and so are the real prospects that go with it. Life can be unfair; it’s the way the world and its corrupt system is.
We must remember that though the world may write us off as of no account, God does not! Even religious people might write us off because we are poor, or an ethnic minority, or not particularly cultured or urbane or educated, but God does not! He is our Champion, our Saviour and He can move mountains for us, and give us a better life even when all seems lost and hopeless. ‘Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NJB)
I pray about a fault of mine and ask God every day to help me with it. Doing this, admitting I struggle with a sin, means I think that God is merciful to me. When people have a sin in their lives, but pretend or otherwise feel they don’t, it’s then that sin may take root, and a person can become deluded they are perfect. And when some people think they are perfect, they often think they have the right to judge other people they think are not perfect. I feel that much of when Christians are judging other people comes down to this kind of false spiritual pride; we should always examine our motives when we judge other people.
We cannot live in sin, any kind of sin, and then expect God to be favourable towards us. This goes for your common or garden Christian, or whether you are a vicar or priest, an archbishop or even the Pope Himself. There are no special clauses for Christians who sin. So, let us endeavour to leave sin behind, and to ask God to help us sincerely if we are struggling with sin in any area of our lives.
‘We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.’ (Ephesians 2:20 NJB)