Many years ago the BBC produced an excellent series called the Big Battalions. It was a story about a group of people from different faiths whose lives inevitably become entangled. As a piece of drama, it was worth watching. Yet it was not so much the drama itself, but the incisive observations of human nature. The story focused on an Anglican clergyman. He is a powerful Evangelical, and you get the feeling that the author really understands church politics. Of course, the clergyman is corrupt, but then, so are all the players. And what of the corruption?

First there is the corruption of fear. The High Church bishop in the story makes the observation that revivalist worship, the hand-waving, the repetitive driving choruses, have no purpose other than to drive away fear - the fear that maybe we are alone, that there is no God. The more noise the less fear. Mind you, it's also true to say, the more ritual the less fear. Yes indeed, church can be a magnet to the fearful - the fear of death, loneliness and isolation. Youth church in particular can be made up of those who fear being left on the shelf. So yes, what is the substance of faith? Do we cling to the cross of Jesus out of fear? Only reflective quietness provides the space to search out our true motivations.

Second there is the corruption of power. In the story, the Evangelical and the High Churchman both covet the position of Bishop, but both deny their covetousness, even to themselves. Then, when the High Churchman gets the position of Bishop, he plays power games with the Evangelical, while the Evangelical sets about to undermine him. And yes, they can't see what they are doing. Sadly, our motivations are often hidden behind an impregnable wall of self-righteousness. Oh yes! The games we play.

I remember a line from a B grade movie, I think it was called The Henderson Monster, and a terrible movie it was. Yet, it had some memorable lines, this one in particular: "even our most noble motivations cannot tolerate close inspection." Dear me, how true! And there is no point hiding what we are for "God knows the heart." We can stand only when we see what we are, turn to Jesus ,and place our corruption at the foot of his cross.


[Pumpkin Cottage]