"A Journey Shared Part 2 - "Where I Was, and Where I Am".
An admission I make in my first Post is that whilst calling myself a Christian I was deceiving myself (and perhaps some people who are not aware of being a true Christian is) as I had largely ignored or sidelined the spiritual dimension of the faith I claimed to be part of.
'I am the light of the world", declares Jesus in John 8 vs 12.
In saying this he makes the claim that He is the exclusive source of spiritual light and that no other source of spiritual truth is available to mankind.
So, whilst I was not only in denial to my faith I had also dosed up on self. And I had become so full of self there was no room for anything spiritual whatever.
I was, quite literally, walking in darkness - knowingly. But trying to deny it by sprouting forth Christian Apologetics 'around the dinner table' and boring everyone to tears. There is probably good reason that we are told "...not by your good works, that you might boast". (Matthew 6 vs 1)
If I use the teachings of 'by your fruits you will be known' to reflect on my behaviour I cannot escape the fact that that I found myself just as described by Paul in Romans 8 vs 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."
In my case this involved inappropriate relationships, self absorbtion, abuse of alcohol, being judgemental and a list that becomes longer each time I 'get on my knees'!
Now what makes this all the so much worse in my case is that I had signed up to live a Christian life that upheld certain values. This means playing for a team that has certain rules that should be obeyed, morals to try one's best to uphold, and professing a faith in the fact that Jesus died on the Cross so I could be forgiven for all those very things I was engaged in.
What to say?
Now, if as a supposed member of this team I had signed up for, I continue to profess my faith yet continue to 'break the rules' there will come a time when the some discipline is required. And my condition is just that. I have been warned. Repeatedly. To continue on my path was one way to destruction... "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains, it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world".
Quite simply God had to go to extraordinary lengths to get my attention...I was ignoring Him!
I am treading on dangerous ground here.
This is a question that has turned many away from Christianity (including CS Lewis) - namely that of why does a caring God allow suffering and pain.
The answer has to do with probably the most confusing gift of all.. 'free will'.
Only when I got to to understand the concept of 'free will' and a 'loving God' (and a few other 'basic foundational doctrines') much of where we find ourselves in this world will begin to make sense.
That's for next time.
To end this Blog - a quick story.
Back in the 1970's our family lived near Queenstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
One of the family farms bordered an area called the Hewu, and one of the leaders of the community was a man by the name of Gordon Madubedube. My father and Gordon spent many hours together in service to the populace of the Hewu - anything from dipping livestock to matters of social importance.
We moved away from that area long ago and time has moved on. And it is far away from Cape Town.
In June last year towards the end of radiation treatment I was admitted to the Rondebosch Medi Clinic to help ease the effects of the treatment.
The very first evening in Hospital I was lying in bed (it's what one does in Hospital) and the Matron on duty for evening shift came and stood next to my bed, pointed at the name board above me and asked,"uVelphi wena?" ("Where do you come from?" in isiXhosa)
To which I replied - "ndivela Hewu". (I come from the the Hewu).
She put her hand to her chest and asked "uyayazi bandigubani mna' (Do you know who I am?)
(Now bear in mind that the Hewu I speak of is some 1 000 kms from Cape Town and very rural and I haven't been there for quite some time.)
I, quite simply, had no clue as to who this lady was.
She moved a little closer..."uGordon Madubedube ungu tatawam". (Gordon Madubedube is my farther).
Needless to say I was pretty much speechless. Those who understand the Eastern Cape and South Africa and the social realities will probably understand just why.
Sister Rose pulled up chair and gave me some of her precious time to 'catch up'. It was, as the other patients in the ward remarked, rather confusing to see a 60 year old white man chatting in Xhosa to the matron on duty about clearly 'unmedical' things.
Small world indeed!!