HEART AND SOUL: On the journey to find a better way

IN CHURCH recently we read from Matthew and I had prepared a sermon on ethics, and a higher more rigorous ethical call in the teaching of Jesus.

The passage in question was Matthew 7.16-18

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

However as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

One of the things that we do in our Wednesday service is give people in the congregation the opportunity to raise thoughts and questions about the passages, and have a brief dialogue.

In this service some one made the comment that it is often our politicians who are the bad fruit, and that struck me, like a bolt from the blue.

I realised that there is a significant truth in that statement, and for me there are three problematic trees that immediately come to mind, our political system, our valuing of sporting stars and in our recent past the church.

Let me explain.

In our political system we reward people who are able to garner votes and to wield influence.

There are structural incentives to make deals and to foster fear in order to be able to then appeal to those fears.

This system naturally leads to politicians who, despite often entering with the best of intentions, are in the habit of creating and driving wedge issues, of appealing to people's fears, and often in a way that magnifies them.

In our sporting structures, we choose people who are driven hardworking resilient physical people, and then in our society those people are lauded.

Personally I would love some of those characteristics.

The problem comes when you take those characteristics, and add a heady mix of influence, alcohol and misplaced physicality.

What we see then is sporting stars who are noted not for their on field brilliance, but of- field miss-steps.

In the church of course we are still seeing the impact of the Royal Commission in to responses to child abuse.

Part of the problem is we created a system that rewarded collegiality, loyalty and confidentiality over truth, life and healing.

In this case I am focusing not on the perpetrators, but on those who should have acted better in their responses, essentially the enablers.

That meant that people who should have known and done better by the victims where instead backed into making the choice to keep secrets, for the good of the church and to protect their fellow clergy.

I wish I had a solution to any one of these problems; I assure you I would be shouting it from the rooftop if I did.

The problem comes when the tree bears a mix of fruit, and each of those systems do just that.

It takes more wisdom than I have to know which branches to cut, and which to prune.

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