Cruel to be kind
"Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realise how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me," declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty." Jeremiah 2.19
These are difficult days for the Church of Scotland, as we face inexorable decline and grasp at various straws in a desperate attempt to survive. And it's not entirely self-serving. We believe in who we are and whom we serve. We believe we have a message which the nation needs to hear, which is good news to each and every citizen and those whom we are privileged to work and live among overseas too.
The trouble is that, in our desperation and with the best intentions, we are prone to stray down unhelpful paths of compromise, hoping that in cultural relevance and pastoral leniency we might find a way forward. But there is no salvation but in the way of the cross, in pursuit of Jesus. The Good Shepherd does indeed lead us into green pastures and beside still waters - sometimes. At other times it is through the valley of the shadow of death. He furnishes our every need - abundantly - yet in the face of our enemies.
Life will not be easy this side of eternity and so we should expect to suffer. Popularity is nice when it happens but it is not to be chased because that will lead only to disappointment and disaster. In his insistence upon the highest of standards and repentance when we fall short, God can seem like a hard taskmaster. But what parent hasn't had to explain to little children the danger of ignoring advice and breaking the rules? God's commands are laced with loving concern because, at the end of the day, he only wants what is best for us.