Rector's Letter October 2018

October 2018

EVERYONE ELSE DOES IT, WHY NOT ME?

Romans 8:5-8

What a week it’s been in the rarefied atmosphere of top-class tennis. If you have been living in a news and social media bubble you won’t have heard of the Serena Williams’ controversy at last week’s US Open. She was warned for received coaching from the side-lines, proceeded to verbally abuse and physically threaten the umpire, and then smash her racquet in anger. All this cost her a game and $17,000 and ignited a firestorm of indignation, both in support and condemnation of her. Interestingly, at least one person, Billie Jean King, went from unequivocal support of Williams’ actions, to condemning them recently. As an aside, we really do need to learn to reserve judgment on many issues, the 9th Commandment, ‘Do not bear false witness’ cautions us to wait for the facts.

 

What’s the point of recounting this rather sordid tale? Aside from the rather debatable claims from Ms Williams that her actions were promoting gender equality and racial equality her main defence was, wait for it, ‘Everyone does it!’ It sounds like a teenager caught speeding, or the exam cheat who gets caught, or the adulterer - ‘Everyone does it’.

What a challenge for us as Christians to live lives of conviction and principle in a world which says that everyone does it so carry on, or the only crime is getting caught, so don’t get caught, or if it doesn’t harm anyone else then its ok. As a friend of mine said, the proof of being a Christian is how we behave when no one is looking. My fear is that too many Christians behave without conviction even when people are looking.

In Romans 8 the Apostle Paul says this, and it’s my paraphrase, ‘So then Christians, don’t live according to the flesh, if you do you will die spiritually, but kill off the things of the flesh which lead you away from God. If you are led by the Holy Spirit you are a child of God’.

The stakes are high. How our faith is displayed through our behaviour is of critical importance, it’s not just an issue of displaying Christ to the world through our actions, it’s also about being spiritually healthy. We are in a precarious position as people of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we degenerate to the lowest common denominator of ‘Everyone does it’. We are held to a higher standard than that. The Lord we worship and adore is calling us to be transformed by His presence and to exercise self-control so that we aren’t corrupted by the sins we commit in the flesh.

God bless as you pursue the things which lead to righteousness and receive the reward of a spirit overflowing with God’s presence. 

 

Rev Stephen Harrison