October 2016

December 5, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

Sometimes it is good to go back to the beginning and remind ourselves of the basics. Do you remember God’s first words to the human race? In the first chapter of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find these words. 26 Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ So God’s first words to us were to have children and to rule the world.

Of course it is simple to state it but what does it really mean? How do we put it into practice? Are there any guidelines for us to follow? These and many more questions arise when we seriously consider these words. To take ‘to have children’ first, God had designed the male and female bodies to fit together in order to create children. We have been very good at it, too good some might say as world population is now 7.5 billion people. At the time of Jesus it was 200 million, in 1804 it reached 1 billion, 1927 2 billion, 1960 3 billion, 1975 4 billion, 1999 6 billion. In my lifetime world population has almost trebled from 2.6 billion to 7.5 billion. Of course this rapid population growth puts a great strain on the earth’s resources and our ability to rule the world.

So on to ‘….subdue it. Rule over….’ This is the really hard bit but fortunately we have guidelines and examples of both good and bad practice to refer to in the Bible. We ask all users of our premises to leave them as they find it. Similarly at a place of beauty we are asked not to drop litter or damage the surroundings in any way. In each case it is so the next user or visitor finds it in good condition. So it should be with the earth, we should leave it a good condition for future generations. Our subduing and ruling has to bear this in mind and not just take the best for ourselves. But there is something else to consider. We are created in God’s image and the clear implication of that is that we have the same abilities and nature as God therefore we must subdue and rule as God himself would, with justice, love, mercy and compassion. There should be no force, coercion or corruption.

So how do we decide what is right? Plutocracy, autocracy and democracy are all flawed and wrong, it is theocracy which helps us do that which is right. Sadly theocracy is commonly used to describe a system of priests ruling in the name of God whereas it is actually discerning the will of God and then doing it. We achieve this through prayer, Bible Study, conversation, discussion and sitting quietly waiting upon God. Taking every word of God that there is in the Bible and exploring would take months if not years but here are a couple examples to help us. The instruction not to harvest right to the edge of a field but to leave some for the widow, orphan and alien is a clear instruction not to take everything for ourselves but to leave something for others. The instruction to welcome the stranger means that all migrants should be welcomed. Taking the Bible seriously is a real challenge and very radical.   Ian