Friday, September 20, 2019

A case of good manners!

‘Put your mobile phone away during meals, never eat on the train, and remember that reclining your aeroplane seat is selfish’. So says the DeBrett’s Handbook of Modern Manners. They’ve been dispensing advice on etiquette for 250 years, and the latest edition includes protocols for smartphones and e-cigarettes. Memorising their rules should enable anyone of us to avoid causing offence in any setting.

On the other end of the spectrum, also published recently is Russell Brand’s book ‘Revolution’. With a total disdain for the establishment, manners are the last thing on his mind as his approach is to raise important questions and rattle the status quo. Each of these two books represents a very different ethos; either fitting in impeccably with society or shaking things up for a revolution.

The ethos of Christianity is usually associated with the former – perfect etiquette, dressing up in Sunday best and visiting the vicar for a genteel spread of tea and cucumber sandwiches. The danger of this version of faith is that it assigns Jesus to merely being a ‘terribly nice chap’ - and one who would never rock the boat. Yet from the Gospels it’s clear this isn’t true. Was he loving? Yes, of course, He was. But if Jesus walked into Church today, he’d probably be an uncomfortable guest as he valued truth above protocol and honesty above politeness.

His dinner etiquette raised eyebrows. For a start, he invited himself to meals at other people’s homes. In Luke’s Gospel, he criticised his host for only inviting the rich and famous, then told him the seating plan was all wrong. The atmosphere in that room must’ve been awkward. Similarly, it caused problems when he walked into the Temple and slammed the tables over, money clattering to the ground.

Christianity at its heart is neither the flawless manners of DeBretts nor the anarchic idealism of Russell Brand. For me, it’s the loving, caring, honest and truthful Jesus who perfectly balances justice and grace. Manners are valuable, but honesty and truth must come first. Niceness and love are not always synonymous, so sometimes love demands unsettling the status quo.

Because He loves us and wants to save us, the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to take the punishment that our sin deserved. The Bible says, ‘Christ...suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God’ He died, then God raised Him from the dead, and He lives today, ready to save us from sin and its terrible consequences.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ He is the only way to heaven, to forgiveness, to peace with God, and to a wonderful new life that will never end. But without Him, none of these blessings can ever be ours. He is available to you right now. Your response to Him is of vital importance. It’s not a matter of manners or etiquette - It is a matter of life and death.

So be honest and truthful with yourself today: Admit you have sinned; Acknowledge that Christ died to be the Saviour you need; Repent of your sin and turn your back on everything in your life that you know to be wrong; Invite Jesus into your life to be your Lord and Saviour. Isn’t that so much better advice than you will ever get from DeBretts or Russell Brand?  

Written by a Guest Blogger

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