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Back in harness!

"... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4.11

It's good to be back. Holidays are essential, often fun, sometimes frustrating, usually too busy and invariably expensive. Yet they should not be avoided. They compel us to depart from our usual routines, devote time to those we love and too often take for granted (in terms of the time we give them) and ... relax. That last bit does not always come easily. If we are used to rushing around and struggling to keep up, then changing pace and gear will not come naturally. But the fact is that living frenetically is not good for us or for those around us, so getting off the treadmill is a good thing. Even better if, during our break, we can identify how to live differently so that, returning to work, school, or whatever, does not mean slipping back into the same old (bad) habits.

Today is designated National Day of Prayer for Life. I believe it is a Pro-life (as opposed to Pro-choice) initiative, which means it is a loaded. Now is not the time to wade into such controversies. But I reckon both sides would agree that life is precious. Much more elusive is any consensus on how we best express the value of life.

The so-called "Western Lifestyle" advocates preservation of life at all costs, the relentless drive for meaning and the insatiable urge to "keep up with the Joneses". In complete contrast, the apostle Paul commends an attitude which is independent of external influences, does not involve comparison with others and is therefore both more stable and less disruptive. Earlier in the same letter, Paul goes as far as to say that he would be happier dead than alive because he so looking forward to heaven. Yet he concedes that there is still work for him to do on earth so, true to his dictum about "content in all circumstances", he is happy to stick around!

Paul's attitude is, of course, modelled on the example of Jesus. Far from chasing after the goals of our driven society for material wealth or the enduring legacy of buildings or writings, Jesus focussed on worshipping God and loving his fellow creatures. How liberating that would be if our own appetites were, like Paul's, conformed to Jesus rather than the worldly alternative, which promises so much but delivers so little? It would transform our attitude not only to life but to death as well, which we need no longer see as the final enemy but as the portal to eternal life -

for those who trust Jesus..



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