Monday, 15 August 2011

A Little “God Doing” Would Help

The post-mortem has already begun to find possible causes of the recent riot and looting in London and other cities in England, and to find possible solutions. Several causes have been mentioned on the air-waves by the politicians and the general public.

Some put the blame on the education system, arguing that schools have lost control of discipline. Others put the blame on lack of parental responsibility- arguing that parents have failed to tell their children the difference between right and wrong. Still, others believe its just greed which has taken hold of today’s society. Others still argue that the cause of the riot was an expression of anger and alienation. The list is endless. I will sum it by saying Britain’s society is broken.

In the past few days politicians both in government, and opposition and the police have all unveiled measures they believe will help tackle the social problems which exploded in our face in the past week. Some of the measures unveiled to tackle the broken society include; plans to make all 16-year-olds carry out National Citizen Service, ending the “chilling effect” of the human rights culture in Britain and health and safety rules that damage society, programmes to encourage good parenting, war on gang culture, more police on the street.

Whilst I agree with most of the measures suggested, one thing missing, although not surprising, is the mention of God or anything to do with religion. It appears as if religion has no role in 21st century Britain. Are the actions and inactions of the religious bodies to be blamed for this sad conclusion? Many of the most challenging issues that we face in this country have a religious dimension and yet it appears the religious bodies are voiceless.

It’s a fact that many politicians and the population in this country “don’t do God”, but given what we are faced with, I will say a little bit of “God doing” would help. Therefore, I will put God on top of my corrective measures. In many ways religion continues to define our lives and it is very important that our social policies reflect that.

It’s also a fact that the few who claim to “do God” actually do very little. How many people of faith actually live out their faith – by way of exemplary life at work, family homes, and in public? By our actions and inactions we have caused great grief to some members of the society. Within the church itself our contribution is minimal. Many have adopted the Me, Myself, and I mantra much to disadvantage of the church and society at large. Many just come and go without caring what happens in the church or the neighbourhood. It’s about time we paused and reflect how we are “doing God”. Very few people invest their time in church activities and roles. They will rather stay on for few more hours at work to get extra pay or bonus than to volunteer to help the Sunday school, or Boys and girls Brigade. If we can’t invest our time, ideas and expertise in running the church can we invest our time in helping the neighbourhood youth club or the Scout group?

I believe faith has much to say about challenges facing our society today. We must really live out our faith. The Methodist Lectionary last week gave a very classic example of how we can all help to reduce the inequality in our society. In Genesis 45:1-15, we have a perfect example of how we should live if society is to survive and thrive. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, suffered sexual harassment under Portiphar’s wife, falsely accused and put into prison, Years later, when famine struck Israel it was Joseph who came to the aid of the family by proving them food and a place to live. Today many will say I suffered alone to get what I have got why must I share? Famine has struck our society- majority are the have-nots.
If we want society to survive and thrive we must have the spirit of sharing, and as people of faith we must be the ones to lead.

Friday, 12 August 2011

God often brings wonder out of disaster

Life is full of challenges. There are times when you go through a lot and you may ask why me? But how does it feel when later on you’re made to understand that actually you went through all that hassle for the sake of others? If you’re Christ Jesus then that is understandable, but not when you’re Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob.

His brothers made a choice for him and though it initially looked like a disaster it later turned to be good news, not only for the young man but the entire family. His brothers decided that he would not live under the same roof with them to be pampered by their father. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, yet rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh.

Are you going through lots of life challenges? Be careful what you do during this period.
Joseph was sold to serve Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Joseph found favour in the sight of Potiphar and so he became his personal servant. After some time, Potiphar’s wife began to desire Joseph and sought to have an affair with him. As young man on a foreign land he could said what do I care? It was my own brothers who put me through this and succumb to pressure.

Despite her persistence, he refused to have sex with her for fear of sinning against God. Joseph fled the sexual demands of Potiphar’s wife. He was later falsely accused and charged of sexual assault and put into prison.

Do you see how God can pretend He hasn’t seen what you’re going through? First, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and now he’s falsely accused of sexual assault and put into prison. The young man had fled the sexual demands for the sake of God. Doesn’t that alone warrant some intervention by God? The same way we’ve given up so many things for the sake of God yet life battles us left, right and centre. Does what you’re going through come closer to what Joseph went through? Couldn’t God have intervened in your situation? Take heart. The bend road is not the end road. God sometimes allow us to fall into a situation when we have no choice at all to prove a point. You might be in that situation for the sake of others. It sounds crazy isn’t it, that God can allow us to face difficulties for your own good, family, or a community. God is the porter, we are the clay. God can do anything to the clay. When our lives are dislocated wonderful things can happen. Everything happens for a reason.

It’s worth noting the attitude of Joseph when he had face to face encounter with his brothers. Many people can’t bring themselves to forgive their family members for something they did years ago. After all what they put him through Joseph was able to forgive and welcome the family into his household. He allowed them to enjoy from the numerous wealth he had acquired. Are your family members beneficiary of your wealth or even your household is out of bound?

Riots: Where are the fathers?

Everyone is talking about it- where are the fathers?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Dealing with “outsiders”

Sometimes I find myself laughing when I read certain scriptures. One such scripture is Matthew 15:21-28. The Canaanite woman had come to Jesus to plead for mercy on behalf of her sick daughter. For some reason Jesus decided to ignore the lady, and after persistent call by the disciples on Jesus to send her away, Jesus answered her “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. This isn’t the Jesus we know of who goes about doing good. So what is he up to here, discriminate? No! Jesus was trying some tricks to see how deep is the faith of the woman that He Jesus could heal her daughter as is recorded later in the verse. It was also a life lesson for the disciples. The woman finally got what she wanted after she persisted. I will come back to that persistence, but the behaviour of the disciples got me into thinking.

The disciples had pressured on Jesus that the woman be sent away for disturbance. Of course the disciples knew that the woman wasn’t one of them (i.e. non-Jew), and it is pretty obvious that it was for that reason that they wanted her to be sent away. So just how do we deal with people who are “outsiders”? What is our attitude towards people who are of different nationality, different faith, race, cultures, views? What influences our decision to help? Do we listen to their concerns at all or we just don’t want to know? Are we influenced by race, appearance, views, nationality or we look beyond those things? As always Christ rise above discrimination, and whenever he saw exclusion, he had sought inclusion and this is a challenge for us as followers.

As for the Canaanite woman it was her deep faith that did the trick and saved her daughter. I get two lessons here- faith and patience. To have faith isn’t just simply saying it. The real faith is thinking in your mind, praying and believing in your heart that it will be done. For the lack of faith many have wandered from the truth. How deep is your faith? It’s time to widen your faith.

Many have given up on their Christian life because of lack of patience. Christianity is not a quick fix thing when we can just clap our hands and everything falls in place for us. A lady friend tells me everything she’s had in recent years are things she prayed about several years ago. Don’t storm out yet. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Persistence will surely yield result one day.

Comment: London riots are a sign of moral breakdown

Comment: London riots are a sign of moral breakdown