Thursday, 9 September 2010

Burning Korans and Gay Masses!

Reading Romans, I have once again been struck by how little I think about my everyday actions. Specifically how ready I am to judge those around me. Two news stories brought this home to me this week. The first is, of course, the situation with regards to Terry Jones and the burning of Korans. I do not agree with his actions but does that in itself make them wrong? I judge him and think that it must all be for the publicity. I do not, however, actually know. Only God, our creator and sustainer, knows the thoughts of our hearts.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Rom 2:1

When I read this I realise all those times that I’ve done something with an ulterior motive. For instance, if I answer a question in a group meeting am I doing so to share what ever modicum of knowledge that God has imparted to me, or am I instead doing it to puff myself up, so that people will think that I’m clever. Put simply, am I seeking God’s glory and honour, or mine. This thought also appears later in the same passage from Romans,

“To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Rom 2:7-8

This says that we should seek glory, honour and immortality but that we should not be self-seeking. This almost seems to contradict itself and requires a bit of thought. The meaning depends very much on the three words glory, honour and immortality. It might be better to paraphrase this as follows.

‘ God’s glory, his honour and to remain uncorrupted,..’

This statement requires some justification: In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23

Thus the glory that we are to seek has been imparted to us by Jesus, with the purpose of unifying the church. It is the not the glory of this world the limelight grabbing, celebrity glory but rather it is a glory that seeks to unify. This explains most of the phrase, the only other major justification needed is the replacement of the word immortality with uncorrupted.

In greek the word translated as immortality is “ἄφθαρτος”, in 1 Corinthians’ it is instead translated as imperishable (1Cr 15:42,50,53,54). According to Strong’s Lexicon it can also be translated as purity, sincerity or incorrupt.

Whilst we are called to live ‘pure and blameless lives’ and not to judge other we can be assured that the unrighteous will be punished and that God judgement is based on the truth.

“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil” Rom 2:8-9a

We should bear this in mind as we see the world around us, it is not our place to judge. This was again brought home to me by a story on the BBC today about a mass for gay people. Is was reading the article thinking how bad it was until I came across this quote by Archbishop Vincent Nichols:

“anybody who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue".

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