Thursday, November 17, 2005

On not assuming the role of the benefactor in life

Reading a bit of Luke today in preparation for an upcoming cell meeting I came across the parable of the Good Samaritan. I have never have totally understood the dialogue between Jesus and the Lawyer, but one thing at least explains the reason why Jesus answers the Lawyer's question with the parable. The lawyer asks the question with a desire to understand who (and who not) he has a duty to love, Jesus answers it with a parable which ends with basically the same question but this time from the perspective of the helpless not the benefactor.

Reading it today I thought back to a Sydney Anglican article on one of their recent synods (although that is not to imply they are the equivalent of the lawyer, it is just they illustrate how one could become like him):

It was a real shock. Synod is very professional/middle class, old and very white. I live a sheltered life and it is not often I come across this type of crowd. Not at work, church, or on the train. [...]

But it was the whiteness of the crowd that got to me. It felt like I wasn't in Sydney. Many of my fellow pewsitters were not there.

From some well-meant-but-revealing speeches it was clear that the "house" considers itself as made up of the "well educated". "The poor" were outsiders. [my italics]

I also thought of Mark Horne’s so called 'big lie' which I feel the point of more and more:

Every time we Christians talk about our need to reach contemporary culture we are telling a lie to ourselves and others--a lie that worsens the problem we're trying to address.

We are contemporary culture just like everyone else who is now alive. We don't have to reach anywhere. We're already here.

Speech about reaching contemporary culture reveals our ongoing effort to keep the gospel away from most of who we are.

Despite what we say, we all too often we think of ourselves as the benefactor of either God or other people. For all its faults I am deeply grateful for Marcus Honeysett's book which has powerfully reminded me that first and foremost we should be joyful, and thankful, for what God has done for us in Christ. And behind much religious sin is a attitude of considering yourself the benefactor and not the recipient of grace.

God is good, and I rejoice in what he has done.


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