CHRISTIAN COMMENT Anchor in troubled times

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THE current climate of rising prices, heavy debt, huge deficits, budget cuts, social upheavals and natural disasters can potentially leave us frustrated, demoralised, divided and heartless.

Is there any practical and relevant insight that can guide, stabilise and keep us sane in our troubled times?

I think these turbulent times call for a conversation beyond the superficial and the usual, and for a transcendent, timeless and universal message. Jesus’ love-your-neighbour-as-yourself principle is one such.

Firstly, if we make love the overriding motivation for our personal and social decisions and behaviour, the world will certainly be a better place. According to Jesus, if you truly love yourself, that will also translate into love and concern for others.

Thus, the polarisations we experience across ideological battle-lines are uncalled for in the light of this maxim.

Instead, we no longer emphasise partisan loyalty at the expense of philanthropy.

Nor can we countenance injustice of any sort when love is our anchor.

Secondly, you cannot give what you do not have — goes the old maxim.

We will do a better job of loving our families, communities, neighbours and all, once we ourselves have experienced God’s love.

This calls for each of us to open ourselves up to God’s unconditional love.

This kind of love is quite distinct from the superficial, selfish, and flitting versions in vogue today.

The Bible teaches that it is available and obtainable to all, by having an authentic, trust-based relationship with God through his son.

Thirdly, we must broaden the scope of neighbour.

Such was Jesus’ radical message to the establishment in his day.

In his view, neighbour transcended the bounds of race, gender, age, and class.

Even the human/nonhuman dichotomy common today was alien to Jesus’ eyes — hence his calling upon his adherents to learn from the “birds of the air” and the “lilies of the field”.

Such a comprehensive mindset has far-reaching effects on our attitudes to human suffering, nature and the environment.

Then humanitarian aid beyond our shores makes sense because we recognise that our neighbours are everywhere, within and beyond our locality and nationality.

It makes sense because we truly care — we love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves.

Josh Chigorimbo is pastor at Kingdom Worship Centre in Worthing