Christian Comment with Rev Alisdair Longwil, West of England Baptist Association
PROMPTED by a recent drive to Scotland (the country of my birth), I downloaded an audiobook, The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by S G Maclean.
The novel is set in the fishing-town of Banff, Aberdeenshire in 17th century Presbyterian Scotland and tells a dramatic story of murder and intrigue.
As I listened to the book I was bowled-over by the vast difference between the culture of 17th century Scotland and our own 21st century culture. In 17th century Presbyterian Scotland, the Church and its influence was pivotal in all aspects of society – legal, moral, behavioural – and the Bible and its teaching (at least some aspects of it) features prominently and punctuated every aspect of 17th century Highland life.
Our own UK culture today is so very different – the Church has for the most part, been relegated to the perimeter of society and for many, the Bible with it.
This novel raised a big question for me – in spite of the high level of religion in the 17th century Highlands not much of the values and character of Jesus appeared to be lived out in that context.
Maybe this is where we and our forefathers do have something in common? For at times it can seem little of Jesus’ character and values finds expression in our own contemporary culture – sadly, sometimes in my own life and in that of others.
Jesus, as depicted in the Bible is the most amazing person you could ever imagine. He forgives – he stands up to a whole neighbourhood who want to stone a woman caught in adultery; he heals the sick in body and mind; he loves the weak and makes fools out of those who despise others.
The list goes on. Whatever our culture – whatever our context, these are values to model our lives upon. Let me encourage you to explore the values of Jesus and check out his character in 2014.
Why not get an easy-to-read version of the New Testament (the second half of the Bible) or check it out online? Begin with Mark’s gospel – a biography of Jesus’ life and let Jesus and all that he stands for shape your life this year.