What are we like, us human beings? It was Friday 13th this week, a date which brings out fears in some people, who think that bad things are waiting for that day before they fall upon us. People worry about all kinds of things which may or may not happen in the future.
We want to be in control, don’t we? We also want to be protected from harm.
Our outlook is bound within the physical space and time we find ourselves in, and yet we have an inherent spiritual knowledge of good and evil too, as can be seen in the body language of a three year old who tells a lie. Although influenced by cultural teaching as to what we think is or is not acceptable behaviour, there is something within us which tells us whether what we are doing is right or wrong. We want those who do evil things to be punished, we have a desire for justice. We are critical of others, and of ourselves. We look for the flaw in a sparkling diamond, and tell others when we find it. We sometimes try to hide our own imperfections, and we might hold on to guilty secrets concerning our past behaviour. We have trouble resisting the temptation to indulge our harmful inclinations.
People have always been this way. Whenever I read the Old Testament it makes me smile. Familiar human traits arise time and time again, and we tend to project them onto God as we make God in our image. We are mistaken when we do this. We need to remember that God is outside of space and time; that God is Spirit; that God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent; that God is good, God is love. God made our spiritual nature in his image: our capacity to create and to love and to imagine is a reflection of the nature of God. Every aspect of our nature has a good purpose, which can be and is too often distorted by our human tendencies. God’s desire is that we utilise every aspect of ourselves for the good, and that by co-operating with each other this goodness will expand and spread. God is able to make it grow beyond anything we can imagine.
God is consistent. Throughout our history the purpose of God’s guidance has been to point us to what is good and right. While we have looked at and recorded every event through the distortion of our own limitations, and interpreted God’s words in our own ways, the one God who is outside of time continues to speak to us spiritually through our own scriptures. God gives us pictures to feed upon. God tells is that we can trust in him. God shows us the way through the teaching and example of Jesus, through the living Christ, through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
When we come out into the light, when we tell the truth, when we trust in God we know in our hearts that God is the only true judge, the ultimate goodness to aim for, the antidote to anxiety and fear, our future hope and promise. The parable of the talents follows on from the parable of the bridesmaids. They speak about the kingdom of heaven: who is a part of it, and who is not. Those who make no effort to use everything we have to do what is good and right will live in the darkness, in a place which will cause us to regret, to weep, to gnash our teeth. There will be a day of reckoning for each one of us, whether now or in a time to come. This is good teaching, it is guidance from God to help us to flourish, and to share God’s love so that his kingdom is built on earth as it is in heaven, now and forever. The more we make an effort to follow Christ, the greater our reward in the form of joy in the spirit - even if we are suffering physically or being persecuted by others who don’t understand, and who may be holding on to their own false image as to who God is.
What are we like? We are as human as each other. What can we be like? We can aim to be Christ-like.
Julie Rubidge, Lay Minister