Red Bull cliff diving, social trends, government, the Holy Spirit, fear and love.
Probably not connected but we’ll see.
The 2017 Cliff Diving Championship came to Inis Mor Ireland last weekend. At such events a small number of highly trained athletes leap from a 27m high board (Olympic high-diving is a mere 10m), perform aerial stunts and hit the water around 85km/hr!
Epic stuff requiring nerves of steel. Definitely one kind of courage.
Meanwhile in Canada new laws extend the country’s Human Rights Policy to offer specific legal protections to ‘gender identity and expression’. It’s now ok to be trans-gender but dangerous to express reservations on this issue. In Britain a doctor’s union vote to further ease restrictions on abortion.
Another kind of courage would be needed to promote Biblical values against the swift rising global tidal wave of permissive culture.
Since Easter, most Sunday services in our church seem to have featured Scripture readings about the Holy Spirit, sent by God to make Jesus’ followers more like our Master. And we’ve been chewing over how we develop a positive balance between a proper ‘fear’ or reverence for God and His laws and the loving compassion Jesus showed for all people.
There’s no doubt the Son of God welcomed, fed and healed large crowds of people, without asking for credentials of religion, sexuality or anything else. It seemed to please Him to show kindness and generosity to everyone. Ultimately He sacrificed His life to attain forgiveness for ‘the world’, people of all backgrounds.
Such is the grace of the Divine!
But Jesus also spoke strong prophetic messages, affirming God’s standards, warning of judgement and urging people to ‘repent’, ie. turn from corrupt practices to obey our Maker’s ‘guidelines’.
So does Jesus expect people to live cold, colourless, miserable lives of keeping endless rules and criticising those who don’t? Did He not challenge the Pharisees for that sort of thing?
Well, what if it was all about love?
When asked in Matthew 22v36-39 ‘Which is the greatest commandment?’, Jesus quoted the Old Testament Law given through Moses in Deuteronomy 6v5 saying, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’, adding from Leviticus 19v18, ‘The second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Jesus tied love to obedience and both to the help of the Holy Spirit in John 14v15-16: ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth.’
What if the Holy Spirit worked in our hearts and minds, creating a proper ‘fear’ and respect for God and His commands? A natural follow-on would be a strong sense of guilt leading to humble penitence, but then colourful celebration as we realise- our sins are gone, we’ve been forgiven!
The first ‘fruit’ of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is ‘love’, warm-hearted, grateful love for Him Who first loved us and gave Himself for us on the cross. How could we subsequently live in defiance of God’s laws? Is it not our joy now to obey with devotion, as His love lives in our hearts and enlightens our way?
And how could we now wish or seek harm on other people? Are they not also precious in His eyes? While we must at times question practices the Bible names as sinful, we will love people for whom Christ died, for He does!
Now I’m back momentarily thinking about those cliff divers again.
Awesome fitness and skill. Steely nerve and mental focus. But to what end? Just to get the footage on Sky or Youtube? Is that what life has become in the 21st century – pushing the limits and risking our necks so someone in a distant coffee shop will ‘like’ our image? Somewhere I’m hearing a niggle that has the word ‘superficial’. Surely our lives were given us to be something more than another post on social media!
So maybe we need to think some more about Jesus and what He might have us do, what good we might achieve, what legacy we might leave to eternity, with the profound help of His Holy Spirit.
And there, see, now my thoughts are one.