Rev'd Charles - November 2018

posted 9 Dec 2018, 01:26 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage

 “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana 1863 -1952)

  Wise words and certainly needed in our world today because it’s reckoned that since the end of the Second World War there has never been a day in which there has not been a conflict somewhere in the world. That is why this year, the celebration of Remembrance is especially poignant because with the ending of the First World War there was the hope that this would indeed be ‘the War to End all Wars’.

  But why do wars begin? After all, you would have thought that the human race would have realised that conflict inevitably leads to misery with the weakest and the most vulnerable invariably the casualties. Surely it stands to reason that “ jaw - jaw is always better than  war - war” (Churchill). Yet tragically there are those who appear only interested in pursuing their own ambitions no matter what the devastating consequences may be for others. No wonder then that we choose to remember the courage and sacrifice of both men and women who at great cost to themselves refused to allow injustice to triumph and aggression to succeed.

  However, despite the safeguards of the United Nations and NATO, conflicts continue because at the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. As Jesus himself said, “from the inside, from a person’s heart , come the evil ideas that lead him to do immoral things, to rob, kill and do all sorts of evil things; deceit, jealousy, slander, pride, and foolishness” ( Mark 7:14 – 23). Or as the Apostle James put it, “What cause wars, why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires? You want something you don’t have and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing” (James 4: 1 – 10).

  Because deep down all of us need something which only God can give, a new beginning, a new birth (John 3 :1-21) if you like, a new heart so that we begin to love God with all our heart and love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22 : 34 -40). As Charles Colson, President Nixon’s Special Counsel wrote, having been released from prison for his part in the Watergate Scandal (1972), “Governments cannot change what is in the hearts of people. The alienation which afflicts mankind, which divides us in so many places, is not the weakness of institutions, but the sickness of human hearts. The only answer that can change people’s hearts is the power of God through Jesus Christ”.

  On the night before she died, executed by a German firing squad for assisting Belgian and British soldiers to slip through German lines and regain their fighting units, Edith Cavell (1865 – 1915) the British nurse said, “They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

  So we thank God for the sacrifice made by so many in order that we, 100 years later, can live in a free society. And we also thank God that by faith in the death of Christ for us we can be transformed from being God’s enemies (Romans 5:6 -11) into His friends. For as Jesus himself said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. This is my command. Love one another” (John 15: 12 -17).

 Charles


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