We usually think of highly focused people as being overly task-driven and not very people-orientated. But this opinion of highly focused people cannot be pressed onto Jesus. He loved people – even the Pharisees, Scribes and Levitical Priests. F.W. Boreham was a highly focused person, yet he too (despite his intense shyness) was a people-orientated servant of Christ. This is the balance that I am also striving for. I would covet your prayers to be able to achieve this as well. The banned that I created before writing this piece has the f, o, s, in focus out of focus while the c, and the u, are in focus. This was an artistic reminder to me before writing this that the goal of every follower of Christ is to be both focused, but at the same time to see other — to see you. Perhaps together we can become the kind of church that is genuinely focused yet not at the expense of not seeing each other. While I strive to focus on my mission of serving Christ with the gifts He has given me, I am also striving to see people so that I may serve them as well! And this includes you.
One of the emotional/intellectual problems that people who accept that there must be a God that resembles closely or exactly the God described in the Bible have had over the years is the problem ow Why would an all good and all powerful God allow suffering, evil, and tragedy in His world? Either He is not really all good and doesn’t care — or He is not really all powerful and is unable to do anything about it. Theologians refer to this problem as Theodicy (the problem of evil). This problem is resolved by asking a greater question: Does God ever ordain or allow what we perceive to be “wrong” because He has a morally good reason for doing so? This greater question is answered when we reflect on Christ’s passion and crucifixion. By working through these questions we may be able to understand why God might allow or ordain natural evil (floods, fires, disastrous weather events) and committed evil (such as wars, violence, crimes against people, brutal oppression of others). Especially when we view the world from the perspective of there being an eternal Judge who redeems those who turn to Him, and holds to account those who don’t. This is why answering the question of destiny is so important to making sense of life and the world we live in.
Ambition can be good. Striving for continual improvement can be good. Wanting to be the best can also be good. But these all come at a cost—and often a too high cost. We can, however, strive to be the best that God has potentialled us to be. And if, along that journey we are kind to others, humble, caring, dependable and reliable, we may run the risk of having others think of us as ‘ordinary’ — a high compliment indeed — but in reality we will not just be ordinary, we will have attained the elusive honour of being ordinary and noble.
A brush with death will sometimes have a dramatic effect upon a person. It can (and has) cause(d) people to re-evaluate their priorities and reset their life on a completely different course. This phenomena has been the basis for several Hollywood blockbusters including, Big Fish (starring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito), and Meet Joe Black (starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt) are two great examples. But it’s not just the stuff of movies. Throughout history there have people who have had a brush with death which has shaped them to live a life without fear and accomplish extraordinary things. Examples include Martin Luther, who nearly died in a storm and cried out to God to save him (he is now the second most written about person of all time), and Winston Churchill who nearly drowned as a child. How differently would you live if you knew when you were going to die?
Of all Rudyard Kipling’s six best friends, I think Why is my favourite. Why is a question that leads to understanding – not just facts, but heart. Kiplings other five friends: Who; What; When; Where; and, How; are really mere lieutenants to their chief, Why. Most of you are probably already acquainted with Why but I want to help you to get better acquainted with this master of the interrogatives – especially those of us who want to change the world!
“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Why leads to discovery and enlightenment. In Mark’s Gospel, he records the Jewish scribes asking themselves “in their hearts” why Jesus dared speak with divine authority. Their question is squarely answered when Jesus “perceiving in His spirit that they thus questioned within themselves and trumped their why with His own. “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — He said to the paralytic — ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’ And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!”