13 December 2017

Looking Good

The Olympics have passed and what a joy to admire and appreciate the skills and talents of world class sporting achievement.

The paralympics provide another spectacular event as we marvel at how those who have physical disabilities can still excel in a way that the rest of us cannot even imagine.

The paralympics have caused me to think about how we define able-bodied. In the case of those who have suffered terrible injury, or who have been born with severe disabilities then the contrast is striking and the distinction clear. However, we all have imperfections, things we would love to change. For those of us who are getting on in years, age itself brings boundaries to our abilities that perhaps we did not envisage. Therefore, to some degree or another, we all have limitations that could be viewed as disabilities in so far as we are not perfect physical specimens of humanity. We are not as we could be, or would like to be.

Physical perfection has become a god in our society. The young feel under immense pressure to conform to the image of “the body beautiful” if they are to be accepted. Teeth must be perfectly in line and brilliantly white. Hair must be coloured and coiffured, nails painted, clothes in fashion and all accessorised to create a statement as to who you are. Age must be defied in a similar manner. The days of growing old gracefully in which grey hair was a sign of wisdom and treated with respect are long gone. Instead we have sixty being the new forty and more and more spending on facial creams, hair dyes, faddy diets and gym membership.

Many of us can recognise this worship of the physical form as the idolatry it is. We are a morally bankrupt society and this perversion of our humanity is purely symptomatic of our lack of God. We have to worship something. The reality is that there is no one perfect; we may not be handicapped in the way the world recognises, but on the inside we are not as we should be. We try to be good, kind and considerate and to treat others as we would have them treat us, but if we are honest then we realise that deep down inside we are selfish and self seeking, trying to make ourselves look good in the eyes of others. We may not admit it but we do care what other people think about us and we want to be liked and accepted.

This then is the human condition but it does not have to be this way. We were not created like this according to the Bible. Our present human nature is the result of sin and despite our best efforts, the effect cannot be corrected. Like a patient with organ failure there is no remedy; only a transplant will do.

Spiritually we need a fresh start, a new beginning, what the Bible calls being ‘born again’. While we cannot physically regenerate ourselves we can spiritually undergo such a complete transformation that we no longer live for ourselves but rather to obey God. This change comes about through a recognition of our own inability to change, despite a desire to do so. If we accept that we have broken God’s law and rebelled against Him and are willing to ask His forgiveness then He is both willing and able to forgive our sin and lead us into a personal relationship with Himself. How do we know this to be true? We know because the Bible tells us exactly this, in a letter written by a close friend of Jesus called John. It is really worth reading. The first letter of John is a very short book and clearly explains God’s plan for rescuing us, His creation, through Jesus.