By The Rt. Rev. Nicholas Baines
Christian faith is invested in a person – God – and not a system or the fulfilment of a particular formula. This is why Christians should be able to take whatever life throws at us, knowing that (a) God has been among us and knows what it is like, and (b) will not desert us regardless of what happens. Why this attitude? Simply because our trust in the God who raised Christ from the dead and sees the now in the light of eternity.
The ‘Teacher’ of Ecclesiastes understands this. He knows the human condition – that we are never satisfied, that ‘people cannot live by bread alone’, that our petty competition for stuff and status is a waste of time and of life itself. He wants us to recover a sense of time: that what looks important now might look silly to the next generation. So, we must set our course with humility.
This is picked up by the Psalmist who recognises that human pride is often misplaced. Do we trust in strength and power? If so, no wonder we find a crucified God a bit embarrassing. Our ‘pride’ should be placed in the person of the God who sticks by us as time goes by and generation succeeds generation. I was once vicar of a church with Saxon foundations, a Norman font and an Elizabethan chalice. For over 1000 years people have prayed in that place… and we are still there. That is the perspective of time that keeps us humble.
And this is Paul’s starting point in his letter to the church at Colossae. The Gospel ‘has come to you’ – you did not go and get it. In glorious language Paul gets the focus right: we inherit the Gospel, we don’t invent it.
Is your faith in God – or in things working out in a particular way in your life?
Lord God, seen in Jesus Christ, open our eyes to see with humility and confidence our place in the great sweep of your history. Set us free to worry less about now and put our trust in the eternal you. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Nicholas Baines is the bishop of Bradford in England.