Another well crafted and thought provoking sermon from my young colleague in Fitzroy, Jonathan Abernethy-Barkley, had me reaching for Snow Patrol’s song This Isn’t Everything You Are. I have waxed lyrical before on Soul Surmise about how I feel this is Gary Lightbody’s most complete song and spoken about its pastoral power. Today though Jonathan, without mentioning the song, gave me another angle on the title.
Jonathan was teaching us about “the Golden Rule” from the Sermon On The Mount where Jesus says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He showed with various quotations how such a thought was present in many other literatures of philosophy and religion BUT that all the others were in the negative; don’t hate other as you don’t like to be hated! Jesus, however, takes the positive approach.
Jonathan then suggested that we should not look at others by their weaknesses, sins or as I would say foibles or quirks. We have a tendency to define people by that which is their negative traits. This was a real revelation to this minister, as I listened. Just as an artist’s caricature might exaggerate that nose that is a little longer or ears that are a little smaller so we can enlarge the little misdemeanours or habits of our friends, church going companions, strangers or enemies. What this does is to shine a light on our own self righteous judgementalism and skew our Christlike interactions with others. It allows sin to be our dominant drive in attitudes and behaviour and wrestles from us the grace that the Holy Spirit longs to grow within us. That grace that has the God given power to transform relationships and our world is left impoverished and useless. The Kingdom fails to come and God’s will does not get done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven, where sin is no more, we will look and think differently on our neighbour. Other people’s foibles is not everything they are. Let us caricature their strengths, gifts and helpful contributions and let that new dispensation start now.