Saturday, May 22, 2010

Message: still relevant.

Some books and stories stay in print because they tell the reader something that remains true. They might narrate a moving, sad tale which leaves the reader deeply affected. Such is the power of the language. But they might also be a warning against mistakes we should avoid.
If you read "Wuthering Heights", you remember the character Catherine, who is in love with Heathcliff but decides that she can't marry him. The reason she gives is that, even though Heathcliff is her soul mate, who she loves and needs, she can't imagine taking him into the sort of polite society that she mixes with. Catherine belongs to a landed family, with a certain social station, and Heathcliff was a homeless orphan her father found in the streets and took in. She just can't imagine taking him to a social function of some sort - he would not fit in. So she marries someone 'more suitable' as the saying goes; and just finds that all ends in tears. If you know the story then you recall that it all ends in tragedy, with Catherine dying in some sort of despair and Heathcliff mourning her for years, wanting to reach out to her beyond the grave and eventually dying himself. It is a bleak, heart-wringing story and it probably remains a classic because it gets to people. But it also reveals the human folly of the lead characters. They deny the deeper, spiritual side of themselves to fit in with human society's prejudices.
Catherine is a sympathetic character but she made a bad mistake trying to be married to one man and still closely bonded to another. Heathcliff, also a flawed character, marries another woman to get even with Catherine and treats her with great cruelty; and mistreats his son also.
The story would not be what it is if they all lived happily ever after, but lives would not have been spoilt if the lead characters hadn't given in to their own bad ideas.
It still happens today. It happens because people still give way to the bad ideas invented by humans and don't look for higher spiritual guidance in leading their lives.
Not long ago I read an article in which a Christian single woman argues that it should be okay for Christians to have sexual relationships outside marriage. Her reason is, she can't find a husband. So she hopes to have some sort of intimate relationship without one. I prayed for that woman that she finds what she really needs in life, but I'm wondering quite what that is!
I don't know her at all, but could it be like this? She can't find a husband because of human, worldly prejudices about what a suitable man should be?
It happens to men as well. An old friend I saw at a reunion was still single though he does not want to be because he can't get past daydreams about willowy blondes. He wants to meet a woman who looks like Jerry Hall or something, and in real life he never does.
So where's this going? Dating and matchmaking agencies have become a huge industry in recent decades, because there are people everywhere who 'can't find anyone'. I don't believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ would leave someone languishing in loneliness because He didn't care. More likely He has to get through to them, that if they want a partner they should leave that to Him. It would sound a bit cute to say it, but God is the best matchmaker in the universe and you don't have to pay for His services. The thing to remember is: God's idea of your right partner might not be what you have been expecting. If that is the problem, change your approach.
One of my sons recently married, and the odds of he and his wife meeting they way they did would be a billion to one. Yet it happened.
My wife and I met rather unexpectedly, on a blind date arranged by someone I hardly even knew. Over thirty years later, God's arrangement is still working out.
So there it is. Do people not find the chance to marry for a long time because they are blinded by a predispostion of mind that their ideal other has to look like some sort of a poster pin up? (Or centre fold!) If they do,then they're being very shallow; and it won't work out anyway. The message is the same as it has been since the Scripture were written. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3, verse 6.)
A man might dream of Liz Hurley, or a woman of Hugh Grant, and spend their life on a silly shallow dream. And all the time God can set things to right if you undertake His direction and allow Him to. As well as that, we all need to remember what they say, even if it seems corny. Physical beauty is only skin deep. It does not show you the whole person. Hollywood has a bit to answer for, giving so many humans this tinny view of what people should be like. The real answer comes from an eternal source.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pharisees of today

Jesus compared the pharisees to tombs, 'whited sepulchres.' They were clean and presentable on the outside but inside they were filled with corruption and decay. The same applies to any pretenders who claim to be better than they are by keeping up appearances, which is not the same as living up to them. And some of the best examples are the political poseurs who claim to show the rest of us the way.
What strikes me in particular is this. Some righteous, politically correct people have the most exhaustive social conscience, and make sure they tell others. They don't drink coffee if the beans were picked by exploited workers. They don't wear clothes made in a sweat shop. They don't buy things exported from a country with a government that breaches human rights. And when it comes to their sexual behaviour they have no scruples at all. Even if they are as good as they say, doing all the fine things to save the planet, their behaviour can be a betrayal of others and do huge hurt to those they claim to care about.
In Australia, a member of parliament from the Greens party, married with three children, has been caught having an affair with a member of the Liberal party. Both are married, and they represent different sides of politics. But they can both go behind their partners' backs and carry on with this thing in secret. Them and hundreds more. They say all the right things, claim to stand for what it good and then just indulge themselves, in a way that hurts those close to them and denies what they claim they stand for.
I have to remember my own sins, and the words "Judge not, that you be not judged." My own record will be no great credit to me on the Day of Judgement. But the longer I live the more believable are the words of the Prophets, and of Jesus Himself, condemning the vast sin of the world. It is a bad mistake to start thinking humans are not really so bad, and that the Christian Gospels are too harsh in what they say; and that a loving God would not condemn, and all that. Because if I look around me or inside myself it is not a pretty picture. God must love me all right, to not have abandoned me long ago. And that goes for us all, the more so the proud ones who think they will prove their worth while denying God. You can see people about to bring fearful wrath down on themselves, and they don't know it or refuse to see it. Like the pharisees, if they keep the outside clean and polished, what do they think the inside matters?
But you can't fool God.