We are over half way through term here in Oxford, with only 4 weeks left before the Christmas break. It has been a whirlwind of lectures, meetings, essays, church events, rowing (look for a post next week on this!) and the like so far. Yet already Christmas is on the horizon and heading towards us at great pace.
We are the point in the cycle of settling in where the novelty of the new is perhaps wearing off. At any rate, I know that for myself the excitement of the unknown has given way to the rhythm of the increasingly familiar. All it takes at this point is a careless word, a sleepless night and I can become easily flustered.
Perhaps that is why Michael Ramsden’s lecture on Monday hit home with such weight.
‘Divorce From Reality’ sounds interesting and starts well. A little bit of economics, throw in some philosophy, talk about how to fix the world’s condition etc. etc.. It’s interesting; it’s safe; it’s abstract.
But then a question cuts through the lesson and explodes in my cortex, bursting my heart at the same time.
What Would Jesus Ask?
In a moment, Michael moves from explaining the big ideas shaping our world to doing that unnerving thing that Jesus would do – turning the spotlight on me.
It is quite comfortable to talk about worldviews, theology, philosophy. It’s even pretty comfortable to write a paper. What’s not comfortable is that introspective moment when it all gets real. Sure, the big financial institutions have been playing a game with reality. A game with a finite timer where the goal is to get rich and get out before the buzzer goes off. So we shout at them, call for reform, demonise bankers and everything they do.
But what about my heart? What games am I playing? What do I hope I can get away with in this life before time is up?
The word hypocrite means to ‘play a part’. Sometimes it feels that Christian culture is theatrical training – we’re all given our parts to play, now just make sure you don’t fluff your lines. In this regard Shakespeare may be proven true when he wrote that, “All the world’s a stage.”
It is so incredibly easy to focus our energy outward, spending our time to fix the world, when at first we should be letting God fix us.
Hypocrisy isn’t healthy. As Michael said,
“What does it say about the church that many people instinctively feel that they are the last people we can tell about sin?”
Take a look at this little video. It’s funny, because it’s true.