(Photo taken in the Great Langdale Valley, Cumbria, last Summer).
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:6 ESV)
Christians have always been daily faced with the question, “do I go the way of the world or do I go the way that I know that is right.”
The way of the world is probably best summed up in the defence that people give for living how they want to, “I can do what ever I like, so long as it makes me happy. I am not hurting anyone, why can’t I?”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all do whatever we wanted, all of the time, with no one getting hurt? Surely it would be like heaven on earth? Hmm, maybe not. Maybe we do not actually know what’s best for ourselves anymore than children understand the responsibilities of adulthood.
Time and time again I find myself having to answer questions from people, moral and ethical questions about how we should (and should not) live our lives. Naturally I like to sit on the fence, but that is not a luxury afforded to us.
“Why is it wrong for this gay couple get married? They’ve been together for years and they love each other.”
“Why is abortion not O.K.? Having a baby would be a real inconvenience right now. Surely it’s not really a baby anyway, it’s not life, and why can’t a women make decisions about her own body?”
“Why can’t my grandmother choose when she wants to die? She is in great pain. Why can the doctor not give her a little injection to end the misery?”
Why shouldn’t scientists genetically modify these tomatoes/sheep/children, they would be much more juicy/cost effective/better behaved?!
“Why can’t I jump off this cliff, it looks like fun? My friends are all running into that fire over there, why can’t I? Oh you’re such a spoilsport for not letting me!
Ah ethics, what a mess you have got us into! (O.K., that’s too many exclamation marks now!)
Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Most people would be happy to answer that truth is whatever we make it; that truth is different depending upon the situation and circumstances, that it is flexible. Truth therefore is seen as subjective, based on feelings, tastes, opinions, trends and fashion.
But what if truth were Objective, something that was beyond and outside of the sphere of our choosing? What if truth was placed there as a framework, a paradigm for our lives that was actually in itself good and right and well … true?
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6 ESV)
If we want truth, if we want to know what is right and if we want to know the best way to live our lives, then we need to look at God’s word, Jesus. I am not going to attempt to blog about Biblical ethics, as I would not have any time left over to do anything else today. A good place to start is WWJD “What would Jesus do?” (Sounds naive and simplistic until we actually try and do it!) The Bible gives us God’s manual, His instruction book on how to live our lives. The better we know and understand God’s word, the more we are able to apply the holiness of God to our everyday human lives. Yes there will be times when people simply don’t understand our stance on certain issues; we are not judging people, we are not telling them that they are wrong, rather it is that we know where the right answer(s) may be found. This can only be done properly with love, humility and great respect, something that the church has historically been catastrophically bad at. :-(
We are simply beggars, telling other beggars where they might go to find bread.