Message from John Woodhouse – 1 March

 

Dear friends

The world is complicated. Now there’s an understatement! With depressing regularity we hear of terrorist attacks in various places. Among those who are very clear that these evil acts must be condemned, there are deep disagreements about what should be done. It is complicated. At the same time there are unimaginable numbers of people fleeing violence and persecution, seeking refuge in some of the countries now fearing terrorist attacks. Should compassion for these people be curbed out of fear that there may be a terrorist among them? Or would that be a victory for the terrorists? It is complicated. World leaders consider what to do about the widely (but not universally) recognised problem called “climate change.” Some believe that the future of life on earth is under threat. Some regard that as a gross exaggeration. Some think that there is no real problem at all. Some believe that drastic action is urgently needed. Some doubt that. How should economic considerations, particularly effects on poorer nations, shape policies? Agreement is difficult. It is complicated.

And, of course, our personal lives are complicated. A few moments reflection will reveal something of the complexity of your life. Our thoughts and behaviour, relationships and pleasures, fears and anxieties, vanities and shames, hopes and dreams are never simple. Who among us has mastered life? It is complicated.

Sometimes unbelievers scoff at “religious” people who (it is said) need simple, black and white answers to life’s complexities. There may be some truth in that. But “religion” should not be confused with Christian faith. This faith understands that the world and life is complicated. We do not claim to have simple, black and white answers. At least we shouldn’t. We understand more deeply than most that the world is in a serious mess, in which our individual lives share. We do not believe in “simple, black and white answers.” For this reason, in my opinion, Christians should not be unquestioningly aligned with any particular political party or philosophy. I am not suggesting for one moment that Christians should not be involved in politics, even party politics. On the contrary. My point is simply that Christians, of all people, should understand that in this fallen world all human politics will be marred by foolishness, wickedness and weakness. Uncritical endorsement of a political party (right, left or centre) is likely to be as inappropriate for a Christian as the uncritical rejection of all that another party stands for. It is complicated.

What, then, is the hope of the world? How is Christian faith possible? Faith is confidence. Christians are positive about the future, while being more realistic than most about the complexity of the world’s problems.

The claim of the Christian gospel is immense. It is that in Jesus Christ “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20). We do not believe in simple, black and white answers. But we believe that the answer to the world’s complications is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the hope of the world.

Your brother in the Lord Jesus Christ

John Woodhouse (Acting Senior Minister)

P.S. I am sorry not to be with you this Sunday. Moya and I are sharing the weekend with brothers and sisters of Trinity Church, Tamworth.