September 2012 - The news is good!

We all live our lives out of a story (or many stories). We don't think it is a story - it is our view of reality. It is a story nevertheless - about how they are out to get us, or we are going to be rich and famous, or we would have done well if only they hadn't let us down, or we are just useless, or we are the centre of the world, or working hard is the way to success, or life owes it to us… we all do it, me included. Some of these stories are useful, some not. Whole nations do the same - just look at the ANZAC legend!

When I chose to become a Christian in my late teens, my Dad told me that he didn't go to church because his parents did - three times every Sunday, in fact, but their behaviour was entirely different every other day of the week. This kind of church-going destroyed any hope that he would find faith helpful until very late in his life. I am sure that I would be just as dismayed as my Dad was by the rules-based faith he encountered. As a result, the story he lived out of did not include other kinds of faith.

There are many ways to look at faith and its role in our lives. For some it brings stability where there was none, and for others it removes stifling certainty. It might put us in touch with mystery, or it might explain confusion. Such things cannot be resolved through science, but they exist nevertheless; stories help us to sort them out, and to gain wisdom.

I choose to live out of a story in which the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth is central. The way of life that he taught was revolutionary in his time and place, because it did away with the need to obey religious rules for fear of punishment, and instead called for behaviour that demonstrates love and respect for God and neighbour. It is a tragedy that so many churches have reimposed fear-based rules over the centuries, in spite of Jesus' teaching and example.

Good news for the here and now: in giving ourselves away to higher service and to each other, we find ourselves enriched, as we come to perceive the connectedness of everything and everyone that exists. This is the opposite of what the consumer society preaches, of course! But it is good news, because it means that we do not need to be always striving for the latest stuff; instead, we can make a difference for the better in the world. Jesus' teaching is revolutionary today as well as for his own time.

The bridge to the other side

In times of crisis we sometimes change our stories. Which one will you choose - one that brings new life, or one that accumulates things?

Parkdale Church of Christ 2012-18 —A community of faith, hope and compassion.