Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Food for thought - “I’m not really like that”

I see from the news that Jade Goodie, one of the Big Brother contestants, has landed herself in hot water with accusations of racism against Indian contestant Shilpa Shetty.

I’m somewhat sceptical and wonder if it wasn’t all a ploy to increase viewers.

Goodie’s response was, “No, I'm not a racist, but I accept I made racist comments.” That struck me as somewhat odd – a bit like saying “I’m not a racist but my tongue is”. Yet we hear it from people all the time. A young man gives someone a hiding or attacks a woman, and there will be people on the news saying, “Ah but he’s a good lad at heart, I don’t know what got into him.” How often have we heard some hardened convict or serial killer say, “I’m not a bad person”?

We have this notion that we can divorce people from their actions, “You aren’t a bad person, you just do bad things”.

It would be easy to point the finger though. How often are we guilty of making the same excuses? In the heat of the moment we lose our temper with the kids, or we swear at another driver, or we lash out in frustration and then we say to ourselves, “That’s not the real me, that’s not who I really am.”

Unfortunately that IS who we really are. We cannot divorce people and their actions. The Bible says, “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). We wouldn’t do these things if there wasn’t a desire to do them somewhere deep within.

What we do, we choose to do. What we choose to do, we do because of desires deep within us.

That leaves us with a choice – we can either pull the wool over our eyes and pretend that we are better than we really are, all the while allowing ourselves to rot from the inside out, or we can admit that there is something wrong at the very core of our being and look for a way to have it dealt with.

There is something tremendously freeing about the Bible’s approach. It allows us to be honest with ourselves and with God about our sin. We don’t have to hide anything. We don’t have to pretend that we are better than we really are. But more than that, we can have the problem dealt with – God doesn’t just want to hear about our faults, he wants to transform us. That’s what Jesus offers to do.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you… I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

So if you’re fed up with what you see lurking beneath your surface, and fed up hiding from the truth – here’s the opportunity for a fresh start.

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