The Lost Glove

Why does it always seem to be one glove? Rarely do I see two lost gloves. The pink one in the photograph caught my eye on an early morning dog walk this week. The anonymous glove-rescuer had their wits about them. The glove was placed at eye-level and well secured amongst the tree branches. A strong wind would not dislodge it, and no leaves would obscure it. Anyone walking that particular path could not fail to notice the lone pink glove. It was unmissable.

Christians are meant to be unmissable. Just as “a town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14 NIV11-GK), we are to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14 NIV11-GK). How does this work? Here are two quick tips.

  1. Live by different values for their own sake. The beatitudes come before the command to let our light shine. The light will shine because we live by different values. Living the beatitudes is something a Christ-follower does for the sake of loving God, not so that they can shine. If we live differently because it pleases God we will avoid the trap of becoming self-righteous and obnoxious.
  2. Do good and people will notice. If the people around us going to “see your good deeds” (v16), it is important that we are doing them. All the pious spirituality of a godly heart is of no value if it is not translated into godly action. God’s people are “eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14 NIV11-GK), because Jesus is like that too. He “went around doing good” (Acts 10:38 NIV11-GK), and so can we. 
I hope the glove is reunited with its owner. I am sure of one thing – if they walk the right path they will find what was lost. May it be that anyone crossing our path will see a light they never expected and find a God they never knew they had lost.
Malcolm Cox

Rewarded at Last

The BBC reported today on the awarding of medals to those involved in the Arctic convoys of World War 2. They have been a long time coming. One of the recipients was Eddie Grenfell, 93 years old.

Another of his compatriots said, “I am not a hero, I am a survivor but the guys who went up there, they really had it rough and a lot of them didn’t come back.” These men did not do what they did for a medal, but I am sure today was special nonetheless.

Whatever your views on war none of us can be churlish about such heroism. It is appalling that recognition came so late. Too late for many who died during the intervening years. However, a Christian’s reward will never be late, but just on time. God knows the right time, and He will not fail to deliver.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10.35-36, NIV11

You and I will receive our reward at 33, 53, 73, 93 – who cares when? We rejoice now because we know it is coming!

Malcolm Cox

“Owner’s Risk”

I remember the day well, though it was a long time ago in my teenage years. I was cutting it fine  to process in with the church choir. Arriving at 10.59 am a decision had to be made. Do I lock the bike and come in late, or leave it unlocked in the churchyard and run the risk of it being stolen?

Compounding the difficulty of the decision were the competing emotions of fear at coming in late (and the embarrassment that would cause), and fear of my bike being stolen. It was my first proper racer, and a birthday present. I had to chose between one fear or the other. Embarrassment won, and I left the bike unlocked.  An hour later I dashed outside and found the second fear realised. No bike.

Walking home I decided I had chosen the wrong fear and resolved never to leave any future bikes or vehicles unlocked. I have kept to this practice. But – bikes have still been stolen, and cars broken into. Security locks, burglar alarms and the like are no guarantee of protection. The sign on the platform of my local station, along with the redundant bike lock says it all. No human system is infallible.

No, we need divine security, or we have none at all. David had more than his fair share of troubles, but he wrote,  “The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” Psa. 34:22. Why did he feel safe? Because God’s angel was his security guard, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”Psa. 34:7. That must be some sizeable angel, to camp all around him!

However, all this protection does not mean we will not go through tough times. It simply means that we will come out the other side safe in God’s hands. “This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalms 34:6 NIV11-GK). It seems we are saved out of our troubles, not from them. Jesus had trials in the desert, along the road, and in Gethsemane. He was not prevented from suffering, but he was vindicated.

I do not know whether the owner of the bike lock in the picture is bitter over the loss of their bike, but I do know I was all those years ago. Bitterness solves nothing. But a sober acceptance that nothing in this life is safe is the first step towards finding the kind of security that only God can provide. As Jesus said, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV11-GK). If we are ‘owned’ by God we need have no fears whatsoever. No one and no thing can steal us away.

Malcolm Cox

“The Unexpected Benefits of a Broken Dishwasher”

We had a dishwasher when I was a child – her name was “Mum”. Sorry about that. These days someone called “Bosch” takes care of things. Until yesterday. A rubber seal came away. My wife, handy as she is with a tube of glue, fixed it back into place. But 24 hours had to pass before we could unleash Bosch onto the dirty dishes.

Therefore Sunday saw the whole family at the sink, cleaning, drying and putting away. It was old school washing up and it felt strangely satisfying. Not everything good in life is about forward progress. There are times to retrieve something from the past and enjoy it once again. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Jesus asked us to celebrate communion together.

He told his followers, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:25 NIV11-GK). Is seems they were taking communion regularly in Corinth, if not entirely righteously!  However, Paul has no problem with the frequency. He simply wants them to remember the significance of communion – that it binds them together as one body to Christ.

Communion is so important because it takes us back to the heart of Christianity (and the heart of God) by reminding us of the cross. Worship styles vary, preaching modes change, service orders evolve, but the cross remains the same. Thus it is vital that whoever has the privilege of leading a congregation to the communion ‘table’ focusses not on guilt, nor shame, but joy.

Isn’t that what kept Jesus going? “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV11-GK). Yes, the cross is caused by our sin, but the message of the cross is of freedom, liberation and new life. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4 NIV11-GK)

I make an appeal. If you are leading communion, carry us to Christianity’s core – the cross and invite us to share in Christ’s joy.

The dishwasher is fixed, but my feelings are mixed. Life is now ‘easier’, but will it be as rich?

Malcolm Cox