Sunday, 21 May 2017

Following commandments - Lost perspectives

We all have to follow the law and yet we are all on the look out to find ways to evade the law.  We do not like being constrained by the law.  Most especially when we feel that the law encroaches on our own spaces and personal freedoms.  We complain if things are not going our way and really speak out if we feel that a law is unjust, even if it might be quite a good law in itself.  God and Christ give us commandments which we are told that if we love Christ we will obey (Jn. 14.15).  What are these commandments?  Simple really Love God and Love our neighbours as ourselves.  Nothing really problematic about these.  Here comes the rub.  We begin to debate with and amongst ourselves about the interpretation of these two laws.  Who is God?  Is God male or female?  Who is our neighbour?  If my interpretation of God is different to your interpretation of God does this mean that I am loving God better than you and you need to follow my way?  In these very real, to us, questions there is a need to bring in some perspective to deal with the inevitable conflicts but how do we do this when we all argue about interpretation?

God calls us to follow these commandments from our baptism throughout our lives.  In becoming bogged down in interpretation we loose the essence of the command that is given to us.  It is not in the legal definitions and interpretive arguments that we will find our way but rather in changing our perspective.  In making the effort, something that we ask godparents and parents to do for the child, to change our way of thinking will we begin to understand that the following of these two commandments are in fact simple.  We actually need to put away our tendency to look for our advantage and start to see the world from a different view point.  In today's society we have lost the true understanding of being whole, holy, in the sight of God and thus being enabled to follow God / Christ and enact the commandments of love.  Just think for a moment about the injunction to love our neighbour.

Let us change our perspective and do rather than think.

If, we are to look at scripture for inspiration on this one, we may find ourselves bogged down in wondering why, if we are to love our neighbours, is God so violent towards them in the Scriptures? or perhaps if God requires justice and peace in the world why is it that there is so much vicarious violence throughout Scripture?  What is it that we are missing?  Where are we going wrong in this exercise to find inspiration when all we have is violence and more violence with little in the way of the peace and love God commands us too?  This is the true nature of the path that begins with our godparents and parents as they are given the task of instilling their children, those attributes that bring peace and love into the hearts of our society, as they grow up.  We need to see a different world a world that is filled with the essence of our love for anyone and everyone as we share the resources of the world with each other.  The need for our children to see that everyone is the same, creations of and images of God.  It is when we instill prejudice and fear of the other in our children that we perpetuate the violence of our history/herstory.  We do this naturally, which is why the task set for the community and for godparents and parents is so hard.  It is they who are asked to change so that their children will be changed.  If we are asking them to change then we too must change as we offer our support and encouragement for them to live into God's commandments.

In changing our perspective on our own lives we begin to understand the requirements that God is asking of us.  It is not that the law needs interpreting by each individual it is that the law needs enacting by each individual.  It  is as if we have to place the question "what does it mean to me?" on hold and say "How can I perform this in reality?" By looking at the need to take an action we do away with the think and start to do.  We operate out of our wish to see the other in a better place than we are.  In doing this the other starts to look at ways of increasing our well being as they follow the example set for them.  Can we actually start to do rather than think about doing>

1 comment:

Glyn Marillier said...

You seemed surprised, yesterday, Peter, when I noted the word "Indaba" hinted at Southern African connections. "Have you been reading my Blog?" you enquired in a tone that indicated you thought maybe no-one ever did. Maybe that's because no-one seems inclined to comment. How very "not in the front pew, thanks" Anglican!
As I said from the choir gallery, yesterday's Mass was the most delightfully joyful service I've attended in years, with the baptism of the twins, your own happy self-deprecation and your peripatetic expatiation on the difference betwixt "Law" and "Commandment" as outlined so cogently in this blog entry.
I was immediately struck by your remarks at the very start of the service - those regarding child-wrangling and the command (?) of Our Lord that we "suffer the little children..." I continued to be charmed by your easy, un-selfconcious asides addressed to the babies being baptised, yourself and others; none of it disrespectful, simply warmly humane.
Thank you for all of it and for presenting here, in your, blog, the core material of your otherwise apparently "off the cuff" homily. It was heart lifting to be in the midst of such a community.
And now you have proof that at least one of us has read your blog...

Glyn Marillier,