Anyone who has experienced being a part of a relationship as a friend, spouse, in business or within an organisation will probably appreciate the importance of maintaining a good connection between the persons who are interacting within the relationship. When our connections become intermittent or cut off completely, communication also breaks down and the relationships that we value can become degraded as a result. Examining the reason behind degraded connections is the first step in repairing them.
“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.
While we live in a generation where many people view ‘religion’ as a private and personal experience that bears little relevance to the real world, the Psalmist saw his connection with God as a vital, passionate, life-enriching connection, that he needed more than the air he breathed or the water his thirst longed for. It is my pastoral mission to help those whose hearts are inclined toward God to join with the Psalmist and to pant after a deeper communion with God.
It might be easy to assume that all religions are like Christianity and spread by converting people; however, while there might be some exceptions, other religions predominantly grow by being born into them. Christianity is an evangelistic religion that appeals to people to be converted and become disciples of Christ. This might mean that Christianity, perhaps unlike other religions, leaves converts susceptible to falling away from their newfound faith because they would not have had the advantage of years enculturation. But, as Christ and His disciples taught, becoming a disciple is indeed marked by a conversion moment (even if it is subtle and immediately recognised); but, it should not just be an event. When someone becomes a new Christian, their security and development in Christ can be ensured when they are taught the essential truths of Christianity; namely, the Bible, their salvation, and their place in the church…