Greetings one and all from Stonehaven Baptist Church where we continue to pray for you and the town as a whole as we end one year and commence another. It’s not a year that any of us will forget, we hope that the next one is memorable for more positive reasons.
We looked as a church at the subject of greatness this week, what makes a person great and are we jealous of those who are considered greater than us? In truth there aren’t any formal rules establishing who should be considered great, just learned opinion, and those who are awarded this ‘greatness’ status often struggle with the weight that label provides. Jesus had something to say on the matter when asked by his disciples who was the greatest in heaven, his answer was ‘those who humble themselves like a little child and don’t give or take offence’. That might seem a confusing response but he was summarising the ten commandments and his sermon on the mount, appealing to us to strip away pride and selfish ambition, and demonstrate love and forgiveness to all those we encounter.
God seeks reconciliation not division, and when we embrace such an attitude in our own lives, it leads to harmony instead of angst and frustration. You might say ‘oh but you don’t know what they put me through’, yet when we analyse matters, it’s often our own pain that deepens when we withhold forgiveness, not the pain of others. It’s so liberating to pardon someone who’s caused you harm, and ultimately it’s a kindness given to others since it often leaves them looking in the mirror and reconsidering whether they’d repeat such behaviour. Forgiveness lightens heavy hearts on both sides of a fence, that fence being no obstacle as the hand of forgiveness reaches across to draw others in.
And how many times should you forgive someone? This was another question posed to Jesus two thousand years ago and it remains relevant today. A limitless number of times replied Jesus, in so many words, before going on to demonstrate his father God’s unending depths of forgiveness when forgiving us despite our sins having pinned his son, in agony, to the cross. You see God cannot abide sin, and the only way our waywardness can be forgiven is by believing that his son, born to the world at Christmas time, went on to sacrifice himself as an eternal atonement for our sin. That right there is what you call perfect love, that someone would lay down their life for you.
Perhaps this Christmas time we can answer another question posed, this time on the BBC show A Question Of Sport. What happened next? Yes, Jesus was born at Christmas time but what happened thereafter? Well to save the show’s quizmaster the bother I’ll provide the answer! Jesus went on to live a sinless life as an example to us all, he then died a sinner’s death to reconnect us to God if we only believe it. It’s our prayer at Stonehaven Baptist Church that you accept this kindest of Christmas gifts, taking it to your heart, and live out the life of peace that God designed for you.