Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 53

Luke 14 v 1 – 6; Galatians 3 v 15 – 18


I enjoy watching a television programme on BBC 4 called, ‘The Joy of Painting’, where an artiste called Bob Ross, creates a landscape masterpiece with apparently little effort. During his presentation he uses a number of short sayings for advice to his students. One such saying is, ‘Put dark on light and put light on dark’, making the point that contrasts are important in order to make the whole picture stand out.

This made me think of how often contrasts interject into our everyday life in order to make our life’s picture stand out. There is no corner of our life that is not affected or influenced by this phenomenon, our choice of food, fashion, music and opinions;- now there is a cauldron for discussion, the contrasts of opinions.

Over the centuries there have been wars generated from a contrast of opinions. My dad had a saying, ‘The whole world is queer bar thee and me – and I’m not sure about thee’. What he meant to say is that his opinion was right and the rest were all wrong. I hasten to say that this was not always the case, after all my opinion was the right one and he didn’t always agree with me.

There are some areas where contrasts are more prevalent than others, for example, in between young and old generations, fashions, religion and politics. I think that when God granted us the ability to have an opinion, he didn’t take into account the political arena.

As in the Law of Physics there is an equal and opposite force, then in politics there is always an equal and opposite contrasting opinion. This seems to regularly descend the Houses of Parliament into chaos between the governing party and the opposition.  However, this freedom of speech and clash of opinion is central and essential to our democratic system of government and from the apparent chaos raises the right decision. (Although that depends on which side you support).

I must say that I recently came across a news item that left me confused and concerned about human nature. It was a news report by an Indian dentist practicing in India, who had contracted COVID virus. She was young and not from the poorer sector of the Indian community. In addition she worked in the clinical environment of the hospital but she had still contracted the virus. In her video clip she was pleading with the countries of the world, including the UK, not to be complacent when it appeared we were successfully beating the pandemic. The virus was still there and had to be recognised and her desperate situation was evidence to this.

The following news item involved a man standing outside a theatre. He was bitterly complaining about the government restrictions that prevented his choir from performing at the theatre behind him. He obviously considered that as the number of infections had reduced considerably, the government should relax the restrictions that prevented the theatre from opening.

Two contrasting opinions both moulded by the situations in which the participants were involved.

I should point out that the young dentist in India passed away shortly after making the video appeal.

The Bible is a book full of contrasts, good against evil, reformation against tradition, life against death and opinions. In Luke’s Gospel we find Jesus invited for a meal at the home of a leading Pharisee. The Jewish leaders already knew about Jesus and had no doubt witnessed some of his miracles and acts of healing. The invitation was unlikely to have been made as a friendly gesture as we are told that everyone was watching Jesus closely. It becomes even more suspicious when a man with swollen arms and legs happens to approach Jesus but Jesus sees through the Pharisee’s plot and turns the tables asking the Pharisee what they would permit under the Law.

The act of healing is not the issue here, but when the healing took place, that is on the Sabbath. Jesus points out that if oxen, (a valuable animal) needed to be rescued on the Sabbath that would be accepted. The man was even more valuable than the oxen so is it not right that he should be saved?

Paul in his letter to the Galatians had a similar problem with the Jewish leaders. Paul preached that to be one with God, (Justification), depended on faith in Jesus Christ. Through faith we can live our lives in accordance with the gospel and share in the Good News of Salvation.

The Jewish leaders violently disagreed with Paul saying that Justification can only come from compliance with the Law of Moses. Paul takes them back to Abraham who was in favour with God before the Law was introduced therefore was Justified by faith and not by acts of works.

I recall, as a young teenager, coming home after purchasing a pair of black suede ‘Winkle Picker ‘ (long pointed toe) boots with a Cuban heel. I thought they were the best pair of boots on the planet and I had shown then to my friend and enjoyed the look of envy on his face. Surprisingly my mum and dad did not share my enthusiasm. ‘Nice’ young people did not go round wearing such shoes, and they would only lead me into trouble. In addition, that style of shoe would disfigure my feet for the rest of my life.

I still wore the boots until the Cuban heels had worn down so far that walking was impossible, anyway they were so out of fashion by then.  

Derek T.