The pendulum is swinging

The pendulum is swinging

The pendulum is swinging - When a virtue goes wrong...

The pendulum is swinging

"I am ever for the medium in everything. Between the
foolish rashness and extreme length, there is a middle way"
King James.

Whether King James actually followed this useful rule for
life is debatable... but it's a great concept! Living life is an incredible
balancing act. We all have our individual crosses to bear... but we share alike
a central problem or condition -– SELF.

Travelling around from place to place one enjoys meeting a
lot of people. Sometimes it's like looking into a mirror -– which in itself
can be frightening, but extremely helpful to personal growth. There are certain
global human traits and patterns evident, which are addressed within Scripture.

For example:

  • People who forget their own finiteness will be quick to
    judge others...
  • Through pride comes contention (a repetitious cycle in many
  • Hurt people, who have not exercised forgiveness and grown
    -– will often proceed to hurt others...
  • Putting aside what we say we believe - our actions speak
    very clearly, revealing our hearts...the way we treat people speaks loud
    and clear.

The beauty of becoming a Christian is that we can allow God
to teach us some 'new tricks'... many of which are contrary to our natural self.
Our problem is that public enemy number one, the adversary, uses 'self' very
successfully to divide believers and hinder the work of sharing the gospel

I think it fair to say that Constantine started the ball
rolling... he took himself far too seriously, establishing the practise
of imposing his ideas of theology (the study of God) on to other people.
Since then, it appears everybody's in on it. It's a simple pattern: "This
is who God is. You have to believe my view or I will punish you...whether
through excommunication from our group, personal criticism, praying against you,
physical persecution or if at all possible -– we'll put you to death. Oh, and
God Bless You!

The Catholics persecuted and killed the Protestants, the
Protestant Calvinists killed and persecuted the Christians... Christians
continue to persecute one another -– killing where possible... and God watches
on. He's already made it clear that the treatment we dish up to others will
set the tone for our own judgement -– but like our predecessors, the religious
persecutors of history, we're too busy with our own righteousness to notice.

Hey, we're allowed to disagree... We're instructed to
test the spirits (1 John 4:1-3) to see whether they are of God. We are meant to
check the Scriptures like the Bureans did, to see if a message given in God's
Name is on track. 2 Timothy 3:15-16 "And that from a child thou hast known the
Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith
which is in Christ Jesus." But it's never about personal vindication -–
we are not God. And the way we conduct ourselves will reveal our hearts!!
We're not allowed to be mean.
We're not allowed to be self righteous.
2 Timothy 2:24-25 "And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle
unto all men, apt to teach, patient. In meekness instructing those that
oppose themselves
; if peradventure God will give them repentance to the
acknowledging of the truth".

We're not allowed to treat another man or women created in
the image of God badly!
We can stand up for the truth... but it's
not one-up-man-ship or an attitude of 'me right - you wrong'. In short -–
if someone speaks for God from a high hobby horse, with no sign of
humility or acknowledgement of their own issues of finiteness, don't worry too
much about their message! It's not about 'being nice' all the time either
-– it's about correct representation of Christ Jesus! It really is a big deal...
historically Jesus has been misrepresented... and we continue this
misrepresentation every time we 'push our selves, instead of His person'.
In Jesus' words to the disciples -– "Ye know not what spirit you are of".
Read the whole context of Luke 10:43-56... Jesus' agenda was perhaps different
from ours!

It is very easy to be committed to our beliefs more than to
the Lord. And herein is the crux of this article: The notion that any particular
virtue (or belief) in isolation is a strength, is both ill foundered and
dangerous eg."He that is merciful to the cruel, will eventually be cruel to
the innocent".
Harping back to the opening statement from King James -–
we do really need to find balance! The virtue of mercy on it's own is
insufficient. The virtue of 'joy' on it's own is insufficient. The virtue
of 'truth' at any cost is insufficient. The idea that any motivation in
isolation is a stand alone virtue is ridiculous!! "He hurts a lot of people,
but his intentions are good...". To be blunt, who cares about our intentions
when our actions continue to create pain for others. Whether an employer or a
Pastor or whatever... to operate in Jesus Name requires a degree of humility -–
a trait which does not culture naturally in the heart of the proud. Hence our
problem: Are you pedantic and frantic? Time to chill out! Raw passion alone can
be a dangerous and unhelpful motivation! Eg. Many charitable organisations
spring out of empathy for the hurting (most often based in the harsh personal
experience of the leaders)... but this passion for the hurting as a stand alone
virtue can also cause the good work to come crashing down! It needs to be
tempered with a range of other virtues to be effective long term. Likewise many
churches and ministries become established out of a desire to 'put right the
wrongs of the last Church attended'... The virtue of truth and righteousness
is great -– but if these virtues are not accompanied by love, forgiveness,
longsuffering, meekness, etc. (Galations 5) we have 'Animal Farm revisited'
(the new regime is just as corrupt as the old -– just reshuffled). Hence we Christians
can so easily 'bite and devour each other' (Galatians 5:15) without

Our mission here is not to focus on putting right what
others are doing wrong -– this is a dangerous focus for humans...we too easily
lose sight of 'the bigger picture whilst consumed by the smaller view'. We
must make a stand against error -– and then move on! Why did God put us here on
earth?: 1. For His pleasure... so we should find out what brings Him pleasure
and do it! And 2. To bear testimony to the light... We are not that light, but
are sent to bear witness of that light (John 1:8)!

Our Modus Operandi: 'Supernatural love' -– "This is my
commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you". That's
His commandment - even when rebuking or seeking to correct people... it's non
negotiable. 1 John 3:14 - "We know that we have passed from death unto life
because we love the brethren -– He that loveth not his brother abideth in death".

There are literally thousands of renditions of 'Christ-like-ness'
on the planet today. They are not all valid! May I suggest that to save
confusion as to authenticity, we (each of us) go back to the original Jesus, and
look at how he dealt with people. We must learn to speak the truth firmly and in
love, but not in arrogance and pride -– we can disagree and still show respect
for others. Often my pedantic friends hasten to remind me that Jesus wasn't
always meek and mild. Yes He was! Show me where He wasn't. Even when speaking
very straight to the Pharisees He remained incredibly meek, He didn't destroy
them when He very easily could have! Perhaps we would have... but, He was meek,
and He knew what spirit He was of!

I noticed something quite radical in the book of Revelation
(chapter 5) last week. The scene - the end of time, the culmination of all
things... a strong angel says with a loud voice "Who is worthy to open the
book, and to loose the seals thereof?" Who is worthy to make judgement on
all that has occurred over time?
Guess what? No takers! Nobody puts their
hand up -– how can they? There is no one found who is worthy to open the seals
and look into the book -– only the Lamb! What makes us think we are
worthy now? We are all finite, we are all unworthy except for Jesus blood - so
for Jesus sake 'Let's not take ourselves too seriously'.