December 2013: Faith needs Action

The other day, an incident took place in Parkdale not far from the Church. News helicopters hovered over us for most of the afternoon. The noise made by the helicopters was considerable, and I wondered what impact it might have on the effectiveness of the emergency services personnel at the scene. It certainly made me unable to work normally, and I found myself getting grumpy. What right had these people to come and disturb us like this, just to get a couple of blurry photos? I wanted to get up on the roof and write ‘GO AWAY’ on it in big letters.

But then I realised I was giving them power over my inner state. Whatever we think of the media today, they are a vital part of democracy, and they have a job to do. It wasn’t their fault that the helicopters were so noisy, and they did retreat further away after a while. The problem was mine, not theirs, and by observing what was happening inwardly, I was able to deal with the grumpiness so that it didn’t impact on anyone else.

This highlights something that has concerned me recently - there is a tendency for all of us to think that we are fine, and all the problems belong to somebody else. All we have to do is point them out, somebody else will fix things, and the world will be a better place.

This simply isn’t true.

Our first responsibility as Christians is to love God, who first loved us (Mk 12:29-31). This isn’t something part-time or superficial: it’s all or nothing. We aren’t married one-day-a-week! Next, we are expected to share that love with others. That’s an active verb - we take steps that result in others being aware of God’s love, shared with them through our participation as God’s representative. We have to choose to do this, and expend energy making it happen - it doesn’t just happen on its own. Often, this is really hard, and the biggest obstacle is our own self.

My grumpiness at the helicopters is an example of this - it was me who had to change, not them. I had to choose to act differently. And it is the same whenever we come across others who annoy us - we can choose to let them annoy us, or we can choose to act differently.

I suggest that acting differently, caring for the other who annoys, deliberately sharing God’s love with others even when we don’t find the strength to love them ourselves, is the response that manifests the Kingdom of God, there and then. It is, dare we say, what Jesus would have done. And if we can’t do that, how is God’s Kingdom to be known in this world?

— Steve

Parkdale Church of Christ 2012-18 —A community of faith, hope and compassion.