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We can all be lifted up by God

ben-nevis 390SXRegular columnist John Myhill reflects on the power of God to lift us up to new levels.

On holiday in Fort William, I felt again the magnetic power of Ben Nevis, pictured right, to draw me up to the summit, quite against my rational mind which was telling me I was too old.  Something about the struggle of going uphill that compels me to go all the way.  I feel healthier and more hopeful, for having allowed myself to be lifted up, but this is just a metaphor.
“We are all completely beside ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler has the quality, found in all the best novels, of drawing you into this very unexpected story.  To be “beside ourselves” with anger, is one meaning, but also to be beside others who are in some ways just like us.  Humans have done terrible things based on the assumption of our superiority.  Hopefully this book makes us more humble and more responsive to others.
“Revolution” by Russell Brand was not a book I expected to like.  He has a very negative image through the media, but this is a man transformed by faith in the higher power of God, who believes that we can all be transformed and then be able to transform the tragic inequalities of the modern world, which make both rich and poor miserable.  “The richest 85 people have as much wealth as 3.5 billion people, half of humanity”
So ignore the swear words, and the many awful tales he tells against himself, of the temptations of the flesh.  These makes the book accessible to ordinary people, who would never enter a church.   Give him a chance and you will be drawn up by his optimism for a world redeemed.
How then can we enable the cross to draw all people up? As Fowler’s heroine and Brand have been drawn up?
‎If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me (John 12:32). 
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (John 3:14). 
We might start by wearing a cross, or some other indication that leads others to ask us about our faith.  We have an opportunity every Sunday to invite non-Christian friends to join us in worship.  Give them the opportunity and the “Son of Man” will do the rest.
We can worship together in public places, not hidden away in our separatist buildings. “Celebrate” at the Forum is a wonderful opportunity to share what our faith has enabled us to do for those in need, so put June 10 to 12  2016 in your diary, and start making plans for your church to be involved with a stall next year.
We say :“No use worrying about him, he will never be any different.”  “Just ignore her, she has always been like that.” In fact, the opposite is the case.  There is so much change all around us that we want to believe that those around us are stuck in their ways, so we lessen them with labels, diagnoses and the dark sides of ourselves.
This, however, is our own insecurity.  Consider those people at 5 or 10 or 15: were they then the people they are now? They have changed in the past and can change again.  After all, if they can change, so can we.  Are we afraid of loss of identity?  Don’t we want to question what we are doing and why?
But none of us is an automaton, driven by random chance and mechanical responses.  We are not conditioned to live the way we do, but are free individuals, capable of change, of responding to new insights. In touch through consciousness with the deeper movements of the spirit; discovering a way to live in harmony with creation; responsive to compassion, even perhaps able to play a part in universal transformation; allowing Christ to draw all men up.
The Ben Nevis image is courtesy of Chris Haye on www.freeimages.com


JohnMyhill450John Myhill is a Norwich Quaker, retired magistrate and author. His blog is at http://johnmyhill.wordpress.com/

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