This month, may I begin with asking a question: Where do you think the ultimate answer lies to the world’s problems? It struck me the other day that we do quite strangely seem to just keep looking in the same places, but none ever fully deliver on our hopes:
-We look to War – but long term, we know that fighting is never a way forward for real peace
-We look to Politics – but politicians are fallibly human just like you and me, and they come and go quite quickly!
-We look to Education – but no matter how much you teach, human nature always stays the same
-We look to Economics – but we just seem to swing between the extremes in socialism and capitalism
-We look to Religion – but we all so easily fall back defensively into our own tribes and sub-cultures
So what is the answer if none of the above? Well as a Christian, I believe that whilst the world’s problems are of course not simplistic that can be solved overnight, that there is something simple, unique and different that can start the process for the long term.
There are a number of bible verses which give a summary of what this is, but perhaps one of the best is from the New Testament letter of Ephesians we have been looking at in St Peter’s and Blessed Mary on Sunday mornings: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that non-one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2v8-10
The simple solution – not ‘self help’ from within ourselves, but rather ‘salvation help’ from outside of ourselves. As human beings we are looking for salvation all the time aren’t we: if we can just win the war; if we can just change the prime minster and government; if we can just get a better education system; if we can just find a new economic model; if we can just get religion right…..then we will be saved. But by definition none of these things can save, as of course, none are real saviours.
I am often asked so why did you become a vicar? It is a good question which I could answer at length!, but the short answer is that in the person of Jesus, the bible and Christian faith, you find something which is nothing to do with human made religious systems, economics, education, politics or war (although it has much wisdom about these things) but someone who can resolve the issues within each of us, between us and God and so between each other. By a simple faith (trust) in God’s Gift of Grace is how we can be saved.
This is tremendously Good News in itself for us personally, but so that we can then begin, as the Ephesians verse says, ‘to be God’s workmanship to do good works’ in the world to make it the place it should be. So how can the world be saved? Not by offering what we think we can do (war, politics, education, economics, religion) but by first accepting his gift to us; not first by offering our own human good works, but by the good work he has done for us in his Son Jesus Christ.
With my prayers and blessings for June
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s Bishops Waltham and Blessed Mary Upham
1st June 2018