If you want to be truly successful it won’t be because of your income or bank balance. Neither will it be because of your social media popularity. Success is measured by who we are — which determines how we relate to others, especially those closest to us. This is why we are so surprised when we learn that many rich and famous celebrities are so desperately lonely and depressed and unable to succeed in love. I have met many high flyers who are publicly admired yet, secretly, feel they are failures because their marriages and parental relationships are dysfunctional. This is why I’ve come to see “success” as being measured by a person’s ability to know how to be a good person who engages with people appropriately.
“I am about to – or I am going to – die: either expression is correct.” These were the last words of French grammarian and Jesuit priest, Dominique Bouhours. While his last words clearly demonstrate his passion for grammar and devotion to language, I’m not so sure that I would choose them to be my last words.
Do you ever wonder what your last words will be? I would like to think mine will be profound, or memorable. I’d like to think they would honour Christ and leave a lasting impression on those with me. But who knows what they will be? Will I even have a choice? Maybe I’ll tell Stephen to make sure he tucks his chair under the table when he gets up.
In the lead-up to Easter, I spent time considering Jesus last words on the cross. There are seven sentences uttered by Jesus on the cross, collated from across the four gospels.
One thing that struck me was that three of the seven sentences He uttered were expressions of love and care for others. He hung on the cross in excruciating pain and agony. He had been betrayed, deserted, beaten, humiliated, stripped, flogged, had a crown of thorns placed on His head, and then nailed to a cross.
Did He rail against the injustice? Did He curse those who crucified Him? Or those who betrayed Him? Did He exhibit self-pity?
Jesus asked His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him. He assured the criminal on the cross next to Him that he would be with Him in paradise. He commended His mother and His disciple John into the care of each other.
Our theme for this year is Welcome home and there’s good reason for it. I pray regularly that God will bring into our church the hurting, the lost, the lonely, and the broken. Of all the things that these people will need it is most especially: love, care, support, understanding, acceptance, friendship, and rules. These are the things that a good home provides and they are also what our church can deliver. But it will mean that we will have to be very clear about the rules for achieving this because hurting, lost, lonely, and broken people are all too often hardened, bitter, self-pitying, and very negative people.