Weekly Update - 12th March
Dear sisters and brothers,
I have a confession to make: I love ready salted crisps. I enjoy them so much that sometimes I eat two packets in a row. I do this despite the fact that I know eating two packets is not good for me and despite the fact that, if I’m caught, I will receive a disapproving look from some in my family. But there are times when what I really need is a second packet of crisps. The general rule is that too many crisps are bad for you, and those who explain that rule to me (be they nutritionists or concerned family members) have my best interests at heart; but there are times when I think it is good for me to ignore that rule.
At the moment we are surrounded by rules which are increasingly hard to follow. We know that those who have set the rules have our best interests at heart. But I don’t think I know anyone who has not, in some small way, broken or bent the odd rule when it seemed like the best thing for them to do at that time. And for many there have been real temptations to break the rules which have been set for the collective good.
The final temptation that Jesus faced in the wilderness (Matthew 3) was to bow down and worship the devil. We might not think it was a huge temptation: after all, which of us would take part in devil worship. But as someone reminded me this week, Jesus wasn’t facing a red demon with horns and a pointy tail. And what Jesus was being offered was good: very good. Jesus is the rightful king of all creation. Indeed, Paul tells us that all of creation is groaning as it waits for his Kingdom to come in fullness (Romans 8) and we too are praying for and longing for that day. The temptation Jesus faced was to achieve this by putting his trust in something other than his Father. In doing so he would have avoided a huge amount of pain and suffering. The end, it would seem, might justify the means. But Jesus knew that he should worship (trust in, rely upon) none but God. That was and is, the general rule, and there are no exceptions. He knows that when God set such a rule God did it with our best interests at heart. Jesus had heard that God loved him and he knew that was true, and therefore he could confidently put his life in God’s hands and serve God.
The truth is that God loves you. The rules that God has set are for our good in every sense. There is never a time when it is a good idea to break or bend those rules. We never find ourselves in circumstances when the ends would justify the means and we would be justified in doing something other than obeying God – however good the outcome might seem to us. We can always trust in God’s love and know that God wants the best for us. The proof we have of that is found on the cross. Jesus, out of love for us, endured the pain and suffering so that we might enjoy eternal life in his Kingdom.
Until the current restrictions end can I encourage you to be patient and continue to stick to the rules as much as possible as it would seem that they are in place with our best interests at heart. But only God truly loves us, and his commands are given out of love. They include the command to love one another, so if I can be of any help to you, please do ask.
May you know God’s peace. With love from Sarah and myself,
Rev. Ian Aitken
52 Ashgrove Road West
Tel. 01224 686929
Aberdeen: Stockethill Church of Scotland
Scottish Charity Number - SC030587