Reflecting on People
Sermon by The Reverend Richard Ledger
You know how the conversation goes. “How are you?” “I’m alright; it’s the others.”
Well, there are over six billion of us others – and there are likely to be ten billion before growth stops. And we are concentrated in quite small areas of the earth – large areas of desert / ice / jungle / mountains – not very good for people to live. So most live in lowlands near the coast. One in five of us is Chinese! There is great variety of race, language, culture and wealth. There are getting on for 200 different countries, each with its own boundary or border. Most are armed to the teeth – this year the world is spending a record total on weapons of £560 billion, and so there is enormous potential for conflict. Movement of people is not so easy as it was over 100 years ago when the poor went to new and empty lands to start a new life. So we have asylum seekers and all that means – and the illegal, but very profitable trafficking in refugees.
So – lots of differences. Reinforced by finger-prints, DNA, ‘eye’ security – each person is unique! No-one quite like us – just as well, you may say (Fan of “Home and Away”, Peterborough Utd and Telecare).
But we have lots in common as humans. Bodies. Brains. Experience – we learn and can pass on knowledge – so there is progress – unlike, it seems, the case of animals. Because of this we have had a great impact on the world – its environment and climate and ‘look’ – with cities etc – despite the fact that we have arrived only very recently in the earth’s history.
We are, no doubting it, as scripture says, “fearfully and wonderfully made” – the crown of the creation (Hebrews 2 quotes Psalm 8) – but part of it. Yes – you and I and everyone is created to be stewards of the rest of creation. Note that all creation was “very good” – including us!
We also learn in Genesis that Man is disobedient. Well, you know the story in Genesis 3 – Charlie referred to it last week. It is the story of every person – timeless truth. We are told not to do something – it seems very attractive – so we do it. It turns sour; we are found out. We try to wriggle out of it – blame someone else. But we have to face the consequences. Give people the choice – and we so often do the wrong thing. We have that in common too.
We also tend to fall out – differences lead to conflict on all scales. Genesis 11 tries to explain differences in language which are a source of trouble, suspicion and hostility – what we don’t understand. And Genesis 11 links it with pride – trying for more – bigger, rather than understanding. The BBC Charter is “Nation shall speak peace unto nation”! This is precisely what most nations don’t do!
So – created, disobedient, divided. It seems to fall apart. Yet, crucially, we are loved – actively loved by God. His nature is love, and he loves the whole world so very much (Psalm 3, v16). This good news is for all nations so that all may believe and obey - whoever may believe – salvation for all! And his love overwhelms, eliminates the decisions … you are, so we read in Galatians, clothed with the life of Christ – so there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free men, men and women – you are all in union with Jesus Christ. Listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians (remember how wrong they got everything!) (2Cor 5, vv16-19). If anyone is in Christ he is a new being. The old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends.
What is all a mess, God in love wants to bind together – to make whole, according to Paul – through Jesus he brings the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through Jesus’ death on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven. It is sealed in resurrection. And there is, as we can read, on Revelation – the final scene – the enormous crowd from every race, tribe, nation and language not at each other’s throats, but worshipping God.
So everyone, yes, you and I as well – are loved, loved to bits by God who longs to love out the potential for good in each of us – which means we are understood, forgiven, accepted – just as we are, a love gift from Jesus to his Father above, and God gives us his spirit – puts his stamp of ownership on us. We are his friends, his sons and daughters, heirs of his kingdom. Of tremendous worth to God!