Thought for the Month of June 2024

Last month Danny shared with us his favourite passage of scripture (John 15: 9 – 17). His reflections on how those words of Jesus to his disciples impacted Danny’s desire to be a Christian, and his hopes for the world around us, were both moving and challenging. As he suggested, I looked at one of my own favourite passages to reflect on. Surprisingly for me, it’s not from the Gospels – I love the Gospels – it’s from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, this is just a portion…

Philippians 2 NRSV

Imitating Christ’s Humility

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross…

Verses 6-7, in the NRSV version above, make it clear that Jesus did not consider the power of His divinity, something to be exploited but became a slave. The NIV puts it like this…Christ Jesus;

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,    being made in human likeness.

For me personally, I feel the expressions exploited and servant feel the most fitting – but that’s just me. Moving on…

It seems this year is a busy year for elections to Government around the world – recently in India and Russia, currently in South Africa, the UK in July, America in November…

I confess I find it very tempting to feel that Jesus’ example, set out in this passage, should be compulsory reading for all those seeking to keep, gain, re-gain or, dare I say, steal power in governments all around the world – and maybe it should be…

But the truth is, we all have power of some description or other, so surely it’s incumbent on us all to reflect on if, or how we use that power. Do we use it to our own advantage, to exploit? Or do we use it to serve and bring peace, justice and hope? Most of us don’t, and may never have any governmental power, but we should never underestimate the power of our words and actions on the lives of those around us.

In the UK we also have the power to vote in next month’s elections. To gift power, albeit for a relatively short period of time, to people who will make decisions that will impact, not only our lives but – and this is something we should not forget – the lives of many throughout the world. And the impacts can last for years after their period in office

I don’t know about you, but I find it more and more difficult to sift out the truth from the spin, the desire to serve from the desire for power, but I believe we must try. There will be over 600 MPs voted into parliament next month and many will be seeking election for all the right reasons, those whose primary desire is to serve their communities and work for the good of all. Sadly, their voices will all too often be drowned out by posturing and attention seeking bluster from those with personal agendas which are not always for the common good, sometimes even dangerous for the wider world.

So what do we do and what is our responsibility? I’m a great believer in using the vote we have the freedom and privilege to use, but do we use it to the benefit of wider society, or do we look to our own interests? I believe we must try, prayerfully, to sift through the spin and posturing to come to the best decision we can. And then, when those elected take their place, we need to pray for them and all governments throughout the world, that they may not seek to exploit but to serve with humility, care, compassion and with justice for all.  

As we use our power to make decisions in life, not just voting choices, but decisions that can affect the lives of so many around us, let’s do it with humility, letting go of the ‘power’ seeking to serve, to serve taking account of Jesus’ command set out in Danny’s thought last month, I leave you with a part of his favourite scripture and I pray that we will all make the right decisions in life that reflect Christ’s humility and His love.

 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.