Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Single Minded

‘What you get is what is written on the tin.’  That’s a popular phrase that is used to describe a person who has no side, is completely straightforward, is open and honest, whose face will never belie what he really is.  In the wake of the recent horse meat scandal that phrase might need to be revised or even abandoned.  We will be forever reminded that what is written on the tin or the packet is not necessarily what is inside.  

It doesn’t really matter if the meat that shouldn’t have been there is not harmful to anyone.  What was written on the outside did not deliver what was promised.  Mind you, there will always be people for whom the phrase is entirely appropriate.  What you see is what you get - by and large.  It is not given to anyone to be absolutely consistent with everything that is professed and every high aspiration that is pursued.  The apostle James realised that this could be a problem with Christians.  He appeals to the ‘double-minded‘ in the Church:  ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts . . .‘  (James 4: 8)  Whom else could he be targeting but those who have a high calling in Christ but are failing to live up to it?  The writing on the tin which hides a different, darker reality.

In this season of Lent the story of Jesus’ temptations is very much to the fore.  Here we see an attempt by the Devil to create a division in Jesus’ soul so that the One who has come to be Savior of the world becomes something less than his calling.  What has been written in the ancient Scriptures of Israel is that He should save the world through His sacrifice and rising again.  What the Devil wants is that He should subtly miss the mark, perhaps doing some good, but ultimately failing to deal with the sin and death which had driven a wedge between God and humankind.  Feeding the hungry, performing spectacular miracles, bringing the political powers of the world under His control.  What could be wrong with this?  But when the hungry are fed they may have no room for God; when people have stopped gaping at one miracle they will not be satisfied until they have seen another and another; and no law has ever ensured trust in God.  

Jesus had to be Himself, completely faithful to His calling.  The core problem of humanity had to be addressed and that required a Suffering Saviour who would pay the price of the world’s sin.  Jesus will never be anything else: ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’  (Mark 10: 45).  With Jesus what you get is what is written in the Gospels.  Our Christian journey begins in earnest when we accept Him as He is, our Saviour who has promised by Word and Spirit to lead us in His ways and to create a blessed consistency in what we profess and what we are.  That must surely be one of our highest aspirations in the Season of Lent.