I have to say that the hot, sunny start to the holiday season is how I remember all summer holidays when I was young. I’m sure that it rained, and that it was cool and gloomy at other times, but that’s not how I remember it—one long hot sun-shining daily every day for six short weeks.
There was one particular year when I had an operation for tonsils and adenoids when I contracted some infection that kept me out of school from spring right through to September. Glorious! And again, I don’t remember a moment of rain.
It’s true what is said, that school-days are the happiest day of your life. Mainly because of no responsibility and no sense of responsibility either. Food and clothing were provided, a secure home and loving parents. And yet that really isn’t the reality for so many in our world today.
And I’m not talking about refugees or third-world countries. I was horrified to see some report recently which claimed that children go hungry in this country, poverty stunts the opportunity for so many, and accounts for much of the crime we experience.
I saw a newspaper headline this week which claimed that crime was out of control and the police had lost the battle.
I hope that’s not true, but I fear that it might be. And why is crime on the increase? Experts refer you to poverty and stunted opportunity. Perhaps. But we have lived through times of depredation before, and very often crime was reduced. I would suggest a strong reason is that parents, not having learned any lessons from their parents, are not today teaching children. Self-respect and respect for personal standards are not taught today by many parents. They are not understood. Parents don’t know how to teach them. Children and young adults are expected to be selfish, self-centred and looking out for number one. No wonder our politicians have that same attitude and motivation. And even clergy in our churches appear wrapped in their own needs rather than the service of their congregations and their needs they are charged with by God.
And yet, read the book of Ezekiel, and it’s all there, as prophesied thousands of years ago. And we are paying a fearful price as individuals and as a society. Recently London overtook New York as the capital of the world for killings in our streets—not for long, it’s true, but for about a fortnight we had that dubious honour.
Ultimately God will hold our clergy to blame for the state of our nation. They speak, claims God, what they want to, rather than the words God wants them to speak. Most of the time they speak what their congregations want to hear or will stand. I hope our fellowship never reaches that state in what we say!
For most churches, what is preached is a “social gospel”, promoting the welfare of the people where they are. And that, as we all know, is the ultimate death sentence for any society. It is particularly true for Christians also, and yet that too is what mostly we see. I hope we take warning that it must not be so in our fellowship or congregations. Yes, we love each other, not as commanded, though it is commanded, but because we want to. It becomes a response to the love God has shown to us, but it has more than the short-term health and wealth of people. It has an in-depth concern for people and their longer-term futures.