Politics Religion and Common Purpose

Well seaside breaks never last too long. Its now the middle of the week after a holiday break and you know that feeling - you think, was I really away? One for certain i do feeel for those people who are still away and can't get back because of the Ash Cloud. I'm kind of glad we didn't go too far this Easter. Anyway, I started my new series on the Book of Ephesians and I hope the congregation will enjoy the sermons. I think it is all right to enjoy the things of God. Therefore it is good to talk aboput enjoying sermons. God takes great pleasure in our pleasure. How amazing is that? There is just so much in the Epistle of Ephesians that challenges us to be positive people, living out Grace s a life model in the world. Today I had the privelege of having a group of leaders from the various community sectors visit with us here in Bo'ness. They were part of the Common Purpose Leadership Programme. This is an organisation that offers leadership training to various sectors including industry and the business world. I had the opportunity of taking part in a seminar talking about leadership styles and sharing a little with them about the person who has influenced me most. The wonderful thing is that Jesus of Nazareth is now often quoted and held up as a Leadership Model among those who write about Leadership. Today I used the thinking of the Clinical Psychologist Frank Lake, to introduce the group to the Cycle of Grace. It is a model from which we can learn about leadership. Lake saw in Jesus the ultimate leader who was comfortable in his own shoes becaue he fist and foremost felt and understood what it meant to be accepted. At the end of Luke chapter 3 we have the baptism of Jesus and the words of the Father saying, " You are my beloved Son and with you I am well pleased." It was this knowledge of acceptance that allowed Jesus to feel sustained enough even to face the trials and the temptations of the wilderness experience. From such an experience Lake suggests, Jesus discovered his significance and it was this knowledge of his purpose and significance in the world that gave him the courage to bind up the broken hearted, heal the sick and even face the cross. But here is the amazing idea - when Jesus faced the cross was that the achievement of his life? His death brought about by the betrayal of a friend and the indecisive Roman Governor? Or was it more? What looked like failure was in fact the greatest achievement that has ever been, the redemption of a creation. You see Ephesians tells us that all things that are in heaven and on earth will be gathered up and given their meaning in Christ. Jesus Christ is the great Comic Unifier. So the resurrection of the one becomes the promise of the resurrection of the many. Hope and victory are drawn out of failure. What is failure to one person might in reality be tseen as their starting point to renewal. As we face a General Election here in the UK I am only too aware of politicians defining success in economic terms. Now in many ways that is understandable. Perhaps we need to hear about the achievements that might look like failures but which have become the driversto being about change and renewal. I wonder if there is a place for leaders today to reflect on the nature of success that is not soley based on economics but relates to creating and sustaining workable and lasting relationships built upon communities of fairness and integrity and dare I say it trust. Communities that value the contribution of the man who earns his living with the skill of his hands as much as the one who earns his significance through his brain power. We also need to be aware of the effect that unemployment has on the self worth and significance of an individual. How do we create opportunities for more people to engage in work that creates and develops good and lasting relationships? I'm thinking on the many opportunities that could arise out of a philosophy of work that was not only rewarded through economic gain but was rewarded through respect and heartfelt gratitute. I think we need to start engaging the politicians to begin to think about what it might mean for them to work closer together to work for the common purpose. What I find so amusing in all of this, is that we live in a so called politically correct culture, promoted on the main by politicians, who say they believe in being inclusive, yet who find the whole idea of modelling inclusive politics completely impractical. And while i point the finger at the politicians I challenge the Church of Christ to consider what it means to be one body serving together in community. So what does it mean to be people who live in community yet recognise the shaping tool of diversity. Perhaps our politicians could learn from the church model of being a people who are called to live in commmunity out of our diversity? The interesting thing is that this whole theme of unity and diversity is one of the key themes discussed in Ephesians.
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