There was a protest march in London recently against the visit of a particular American politician. A percentage of the UK population objected to this, and they gathered in force with both rude and witty slogans on large placards that were filmed and shown widely across the media.
Although the event caused some publicity in the UK, it was hardly likely to alter the state of affairs in the US in any way. Even so, the British have tried before to alter political attitudes in America, notably when a UK newspaper editor asked his readers to write letters to American voters in a swing state in 2004. This is one reaction from the USA to that somewhat ill-advised interference aimed at their countrymen at the time;
“Real Americans aren’t interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions. If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it …”
I don’t think I live in a “worthless corner” but still, he has a point.
It’s not wrong to have opinions about politics, but the basic premise is this:
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?” Luke 6:41.
And I’m not talking politics here, I’m talking about me.
“I need a life”
People I have contact with aren’t interested in me telling them what I think about their decisions, their behaviour or other choices that they make. I don’t need to promote my opinions and knowledge about what is wrong with their way of life just because I think it is empty or misguided.
Instead of having so many righteous “tea-sipping” opinions I need a life.
I was once lent a very high-brow doctrinal book from an Oxford-educated scholar. It explainedof England’s perspective on some aspects of Biblical teaching and she really wanted me to read it because she found it of so much value in stating religious truths. When she took the book back she asked what I had thought of it. I just said:
“There’s no life in it…”
People in need crave something living. People with an ear to hear want something that makes their heart leap and opens up the Word of God as revelation. And they don’t get it from me lecturing them about things that I have read in God’s Word but that I haven’t yet put into practice. In fact, nobody needs me lecturing at all – they need to see me living.
God’s goodness leads to repentance
Somebody once asked my forgiveness for something that had happened some years before. I asked them what had prompted them to ask for forgiveness after so long, and they said something that I have never forgotten.
They had been staying with a God-fearing couple that had been living the life they read about in the Bible. They were so good to her, so forgiving of each other, so happy, so positive; they were not interested in what or who she knew, or how spiritual she was; they showered her with goodness. It was this goodness that revealed something in her own life and made her ashamed about how she had acted herself. Her life was affected by watching how other people lived, not by receiving a lecture on the value of asking for forgiveness.
And this doesn’t mean that we always have to be “nice.” It means we have to be obedient to what our conscience is saying and what we understand the Spirit wants us to do or say.
I can be the change
Many years ago, a young person would often complain to me about the lack of care and activity in their local Church. I felt browbeaten and attacked, and emotionally I was wringing my hands and cringing. I did not know what to say. But I got a clear impression that I should not live according to my natural tendencies which would be to commiserate and make peace, to smooth things over and cheer them up. I needed a life. I may not have been able to sort the whole situation out, but I could do something about my own response. So, I decided to refuse to be browbeaten. I rebuked them:
“Stop complaining; if you see so clearly what is wrong and what needs to be done then make sure that you grow up into the sort of person that can meet those needs for the sake of other young people.”
And not only did the young person stop complaining, they did grow up into someone who worked to meet those needs, and they succeeded. My obedience resulted in their obedience.
I am an insignificant person in a small country. I have no specific task in my home Church, I am not a “visible” member, nor do I have any input into decision making. But if you, like me, are in this position we also have a great strength. We have the opportunity to live a life that changes the people we have to do with, just by being obedient to God’s Word. And we can live that life in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
So, I have my own little corner of the world to get right; it is by no means worthless, but it is plenty for me to be getting on with.
“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16.
You may be interested in reading more of Maggie Pope’s commentaries, or in the articles below.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.