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Lent Reflections Week Four: On a Good Way

Lent Reflections Week Four: On a Good Way

Monday March 15

The Rev Anikó Schütz​ Bradwell encourages us to live by Jesus' example

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3 14-21 NIV)

Do you know the kind of conversations that sometimes happen late at night, when you’ve been sitting together for hours, maybe with a glass of wine, chatting about this and that, before finally touching on the real issues, the questions deep inside us?

I imagine the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, from which this passage is taken, a bit like that. Nicodemus comes to Jesus secretly at night, as being seen with this perceived trouble-maker, at least for a man in his position, could be risky. Nevertheless, Nicodemus was intrigued by this teacher who was making such an impact on the people.

And so he hears what Jesus has to tell him: that through God’s love for the world, and our experience of this love, our lives can be shaped. He tells him that he has not come into the world to condemn, but to offer an alternative, a different way of living. It is through knowing God, through learning from Jesus, through choosing to follow his teaching and example, that we can gain new life. It needs a decision from us, though: a decision that we want to live in God. Jesus says here that his coming into the world brought a judgement. The Greek word used here is krisis – a crisis that asks us to make a decision about which path we want to choose, to make a decision about whether we want to follow Jesus’ teaching and example in the way we live our life, or not.

Now, life is rarely, if ever, simple. And so it is that we don’t make such a decision just once, perhaps inspired by a particularly powerful encounter with God in prayer, in the beauty of God’s creation, in the love we experience, but instead we need to make this decision again and again. If we decide that we want to live in God, live as followers of Christ, then this decision needs to shape who we are, needs to shape how we relate to one another, needs to shape all our choices, every day anew.

This past year has been so difficult for so many of us, with the fear of us or loved ones getting ill, with missing family and friends, with feelings of isolation and disconnection, with economic worries for many of us, with juggling new ways of working with childcare and home-schooling. And yet – we have seen the light of God’s love shine through it all, in so many ways: in the nurture shown by carers, doctors, nurses; in the thoughtful hands-on help in so many communities, with a greater awareness that we need to look out and care for one another, in the sacrifices we make to protect each other.

Aside from the pandemic and the response we’ve experienced, we also see a greater awareness of the desperate need for decisive steps to protect our environment, God’s creation given to us to steward. We’ve heard and listened to an outcry for greater racial justice, and are taking measures to learn more, and act better. We are more aware of the need to listen to voices with different experiences, and learn from them – rather than rely on our preconceptions.

Whenever we encounter any such question, any challenge, we might stop for a moment and ask ourselves what Jesus might do in the same situation. Over the past year, we have seen many examples of people acting in ways that correspond to the life and teaching of Jesus, and offering more love, and a different way of living, to the world. There’s still lots to be done: intentions need to become actions. If we continue to ask ourselves how we might live by the example God offers us in Jesus, we might be on a good way.

The Rev Anikó Schütz​ Bradwell is minister of Humbie Parish Church linked with Yester, Bolton and Saltoun

Lent Reflections

Week Three: God Will Do Something New
Week Two: Rebuking God
Week One: A Challenging Form of Waiting

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