Magazine articles - October 2019

Dear Friends

One time on his travels people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to give him sight. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. He put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him if he could see anything.The man said in wonder that yes, he could now see, but not completely, for people looked like trees, walking.

Reading that story this morning led me to think that none of us can ‘see’ fully. By ‘see’ I mean understandthe fullness of Truth,know completelyall the factors around an issue, nor the outcomes of decisions we make. St Paul tells us now we see in a mirror, dimly… only in part. This should lead us all to humility, an acknowledgement of our limitations,minds kept open, and free to change our minds, and if possible, alter our course of action. This applies to us in our own personal lives, in institutions, business and government.

Humility, and an open mind, should also lead us to respect those of different viewpoints and ways, toacknowledge the complexities of many issues, and awillingness to listen and to understand their viewpoints.

In life we cannot just sit on the fence and say ‘I don’t know’. These are decisions to make about education, career, moving home, friendship, marriage, children, retirement. We can only use our best judgement, weighing up the pros and cons. However much we think and prepare, we can never be sure what the outcomes ofour decisions. 

One national issue for which these thoughts seem applicable is Brexit… Many minds, on all sides, seem entrenched and unable or unwilling to acknowledge their limited view, nor many ready to listen and try to see the situation from other perspectives. If only we all had more humility and mutual respect!

As important as Brexit might be for our nation and our neighbours, they are unlikely to be as potentially damaging as the outcome of climate change and other environmental problems. Whilst there is a general consensus that action needs to be taken, how much, what and by whom remain huge questions, for which no one knows the whole Truth of the situation, nor the outcome of different action. But one thing is certain, we do need to act both to protect ourselves, especially people and places who are most vulnerable, and also to reduce or eliminate the damage we are doing.

In the story of the blind man, Jesus continues to open his eyes, and he comes to see clearly. If we can be open minded and listen, we are open to God’s Truth, perhaps through the words of others with whom we disagree…May we and the whole world pray in the faith of the psalmist: ‘Lord, you will guide me with your counsel’ and in the humility of the prophet Isaiah who heard God say:‘my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

With prayers and good wishes

James