On Sunday afternoon we hosted the first of a series of monthly STUDY CIRCLES at Mossop Hall in Little Mowbray. Tony Flint a local resident (pictured below) set the wheels in motion with a memorable presentation on the Anglo/Zulu battles that took place at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift on 22 and 23 January 1879. Three things stood out for me as he turned back the pages of history. We ENCOUNTERED the ENEMIES of hypocrisy (“we’re better than you”), self esteem (“misjudgement rebounded on them badly”) and cynicism (“an air of uneasy anger at the way history played out”).
Let me bring these lessons of unresolved conflicts up to date.
“You’re such a hypocrite!” are words often levelled at Christians. These words may be said behind our back because of the way we have behaved. Our walk has failed to match our talk. Much of our HYPOCRISY is unconscious. Are our outbursts of anger, for example, inspired by a passion for justice or are the explosions merely a product of our own fears, animosities or prejudices? Like the Pharisees in the good book, we play the part of the person who is always right. We are prone to act out a role which our subconscious has prescribed for us.
Saying one thing and doing another takes us to the heart of HYPOCRISY. Working with people teaches us so many lessons. Unresolved conflicts arise out of differences of opinion and behaviour. Dislike sets in and festers. Pride is hurt and the subtle and cunning reality of HYPOCRISY makes its presence felt.
It’s really painful to peel off the layers and get to the truth of knowing oneself. Without sincerity, the interchange between the knowledge of God and knowledge of self is corrupted. ENCOUNTERING ENEMIES, whether conscious or unconscious, inevitably works against the establishment of relationships of trust and love.
Think about it. There is no more powerful emotion than being in love. Many people today suffer from a low SELF ESTEEM. The love of self is missing. Others, desirous of praise and power turn self-love into PRIDE and VANITY. How to find the balance becomes a constant battle. Jesus argues that it is only when love is turned outward from self and directed toward others, and above all, to God that the common values turn into virtues.
I think the man from Nazareth helps us encounter misdirected love. He evokes our worship and praise, reveals to us what the will of God is and through his spirit quenches and strengthens us to love as we have been loved. Life turns around when we find the balance.
Today, people of faith have to deal with destructive criticism. Unlike charity, CYNICISM is swift to expose and eager to believe the worst. It is never hopeful and delights in “debunking” cherished values. CYNICISM wears a mask of maturity, displays a caustic wit that passes for cleverness and is out to destroy faith.
My take is that the beauty and goodness of life is there to be found. The good book invites us to hold onto the sword of the spirit when CYNICISM threatens. Only an awakened spirit can defeat a latent CYNICISM. Jesus knew how to bring out generosity in a profiteer like Zaccheus. His loving spirit kindled a flame in the hearts of people.
The outcomes of ENCOUNTERING ENEMIES are learned, better than anywhere, at the foot of the Cross. No one who has looked long and hard at Christ crucified can take a purely sentimental view of love. What we sow, so shall we reap. Love is working all the time to restore broken personal relationships. There is nothing like a return to the Cross, with its judgement upon sin as well as its forgiveness for the sinner.
The visit comes with a call for a disciple to be a cross bearer and the promise that we will be inheritors of Christ’s heavenly kingdom.