DAY 495: ENCOUNTERING ENEMIES

 

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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”).

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Let me bring these lessons of unresolved conflicts up to date.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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7 thoughts on “DAY 495: ENCOUNTERING ENEMIES

  1. I first came across the concept and practice of the Study Circle when I stayed with the head of Religious Broadcasting in Sweden. We have chosen the fourth Sunday of each month starting at 4.30 p.m. with light refreshments. The presentation starts at 5.00 p.m. and we should be home by 6.30 p.m.

  2. In the Methodist church in Britain we have been encouraged to study the book of James during June – it has been called Bible month. We have done this at Priory each Sunday morning within our service – Traditional and Informal meeting together for the first ‘bit’ and then doing it in their own style for the rest of the time. What you have written here is rather what we were re-capping on in a house group last night. Thanks Mark. Pauline.

  3. Lovely to hear from you again and seeing you “keeping the faith” in the home of the Pilgrim. Our week Bible Studies have also made a paradigm shift. We have been “Talking about Jesus” in the light of the Development of the Early Church (i.e. life after Saint Paul). There are lessons to be learned. We have been investigating the “Middle Ages”. Tomorrow we look at “Charlemagne, Chivalry and the Crusades”. Incidentally I am not sure if you have seen the movie “The Way”. Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez take you on the Camino trail. I could see it again. “The Way of St. James”. Still cold here in the Cape. Mark.

    • No, have not seen The Way – perhaps one day I will get to look it up and see it! Your new subject sounds interesting……..not sure that I’ve ever really thought closely about that time and how it was…. P

  4. I am sure Pauline will remember visiting the Trekker’s Memorial along with our friends from Mohlakeng. After we had heard the story of Rorkes Drift, Anna commented “That is not the story we were taught”

  5. What a memory Maurice – I do remember the visit, but to my shame not the story….or perhaps I wasn’t there as I did sometimes go elsewhere….. in which case how do I remember the visit?!

  6. Maurice’s comment is so true. “That is not the story we were taught”. We certainly have to dig deeper and do our homework. Today (this morning) we are studying the Crusades (including Charlemagne and Chivalry) in our Bible Study. History is like life. The more things change. The more they remain the same.

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