Friday, 1 February 2008

A Lesson from the Manchester United's Air Crash

At the end of this blogg the lesson will be is a lesson we prefer not to learn, if we are honest. It is not one we would choose to learn. The lessons Jesus taught His disciples were often of this nature.

Jesus of Nazareth made statements that were totally out of this world. No one on earth could perform what He required. For instance: if you but look on a woman to desire her you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. How on earth can any man survive just walking down the street? Then he comes with this one, 'pray for your enemies!'
David in the Old Testament did that one all right! But he prayed, kill my enemies, wipe out the remembrance of their name on earth, let nothing they possess remain! Destroy! Wipe Out! Erase!
Well, I don't think that is what Jesus had in mind, do you?
Why does Jesus make things so terribly hard for us? Why does he add impossibility to each New Covenant command? He comes up with things like, ' Be perfect!' and right there most of us bow out of the arena of faith, because we know who we really are deep inside and none of us dare claim perfection of any kind, if we are painfully honest.
But I have discovered that truth is only known in the excercise of it. In other words, first do the commandment and then you will find out how it works, or if it works!
It takes faith to do something that you don't have a clue about doing.
So, I started praying for my enemies. First of all, I had to make it clear in my own mind who my enemies were. Were they really my enemies, or only people I don't like? Did they harm me on purpose? Did I ever try to forgive them? Was I too sensitive? Was I unforgiving?
In the Clint Eastwood movie The Unforgiven Clint has this real cowboy moment when he is about to step out of the bar where he has just dealt with the bully sheriff of the town and tells anyone who dares to shoot at him in the street that he would kill them, kill their wives, kill their children and kill their horses and burn down their houses! That about summarises how most feel about their enemies!
Here's Christ, hanging bleeding and dying on a rugged cross, dripping blood and convulsing as his body tries to get away from the source of pain of the nails through the hands and the feet but is not able to, and listen to what He says: 'Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!'
Of course they knew what they were doing: they were crucifying him and they were past masters at such cruelty which the Romans learned from the Phoenicians, but just perfected the art and making it a public display of horror.
Why on earth would he say such a thing? So that the Father's will in heaven could be done here. The kingdom had to come down from heaven to earth and His bleeding body, torn apart for our sins and wrongdoing, became the entry point. Will we ever understand the price he paid? I don't think so. It boggles the mind. Yet He showed us how to pray for our enemies and what to pray.
Dr. Gray, my mentor at Miracle Valley, Arizona, used to repeatedly tell us: prayer changes things and the thing it changes most is you!
Most people think prayer is a magic wand that you can used to get what you want and get your will on earth done in a jiffy - as if God is the genie in the lamp that we must just rub up in the right way with our faith confessions and then he appears to do our will. This false teaching crept in through teachers who wanted to sell books and tapes and appealed to the ego of men and women who never understood the message of the cross: that of denying yourself and taking up one's cross before even starting to follow the Messiah.
Perhaps we need to rethink our motives for praying. Perhaps we have been given the wrong perspective. That is why we cannot pray for our enemies.
When you pray for someone that is your enemy (real or imagined) it changes your thoughts about that person. You begin to intercede for someone and the effort begins to work inwardly, on you, changing you from the inside, until you no longer see the enemy but only another human being, maybe at fault with you, but maybe ignorantly so, being misinformed, hurting, find ways to express the hurt towards you in order to still their own pain and misfortune...
The mind boggles...but somewhere in this mind-field of emotions there is a glimmer of hope that we may just grasp the bit of truth that was at the basis of Christ's commandment to love one's enemies...
So, in spite of how impossible it may seem, in spite of how difficult it may be, just mention the names of those whom you regard as enemies, whom your children at school regard as enemies, whom your family regard as enemies and say the Christ words: 'Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!' And see what happens if you do this regularly...
If a man's ways please the Lord, He even makes his enemies to become his friends...eventually!
If all mankind could make this effort in Iraq, in Palestine, in Kenya in South Africa would it not bring about a change that nothing else could?
Nice pipe dream! Well, so is Old Trafford, a field of dreams for Manchester United fans - but remember that Sir Matt Busby's Babes paid with their lives in the air disaster on 6th February 1958 when the plane crashed as it took off in Munich. That pain and suffering aroused the sympathy and admiration from United fans across the globe that is still the Legacy of the team 50 years later, wherever they arrive at an airport, people have an awe, a respect that is different than their reaction to any other sports team. All those young players lost their lives before they could really enjoy their game. The mystique of just how good they could have been will always remain a mystery but helps to establish an affection for the club in the hearts of people everywhere. Those who died will never be forgotten.
The way Jesus died for us, innocently, creates even a greater sense of awe and respect for the Son of God, who gave his life to make us champions in the game of life - to help us do the impossible, to overcome the unsurmountable and to pass the uncrossable, all by faith in His Name that gives us strength in our weakness to be more than conquerors in this world.

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