Soren Kierkegard once wrote “People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him (or her). What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines.”
Well it seems the people of Jesus time were no different to those of the 19th century, or today.
The people of Jeremiahs time did not want to listen to him… he was only a youth and he didn’t believe he would be heard. But his warnings proved to be true. The people of Jesus time didn’t like what Jesus had to say, they felt threatened by his teaching so “They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.” (Luke 4:27)
And, lets face it, the message from the pulpit is accepted and applauded if it coincides with our own beliefs but woe betide the preacher who prompt, teaches or leads in a direction we don’t wish to go.
The words of St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians are applauded by we Christians… “4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.” These words encapsulate the law of love and measure the depth of our own desire to be Christ to others.
They are such comforting and wise words – unless they are held up as a mirror to ourselves and we discover that we fall short – or someone else suggests that we fall short and questions our adherence to the two great commandments.
In the secular world you have probably heard that it is easier to “apologise than to ask permission”. It is not so within the Body of Christ.
We are the Body of Christ. Our Christian witness should first be to our own family and then within our church family. Gossip, whispering complaints, speaking behind someone’s back (rather than voicing concerns directly to a person), and lack of consultation or concern for the welfare and needs of others – these are not acts of love. Such words and actions cause pain and dissension within the body – and, worse, turn others away from Christ.
As we begin this new year of Christian effort, I pray that we might put aside such negativity and face the year with love; joy and the resolve to become more Christ like as we share the Good News with others.