Readings: Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47
"How can you believe, since you look to one another for approval?" (John 5:44)
C.S. Lewis' book The Great Divorce is not about marriage, but about the final break between good and evil, between heaven and hell. In a dream, Lewis is a passenger on a bus from the rain and twilight of a gloomy grey town, into a beautiful sunlit country. This place is the outer edge of heaven. Friends and relations have come from heaven to meet the people on the bus. One passenger, a bishop, is met by a friend who had studied theology with him. The friend says that here the bishop will find the answer to all his questions. The bishop replies that religious enquiry can't be limited by simple answers. The friend says, "We know nothing of religion here: we think only of Christ." The bishop suddenly remembers that he has to give a paper to the theological society in the grey town and gets the bus back to hell.
In his confrontation with the religious leaders Jesus sums up their fundamental flaw, "you have no love of God in you". They belonged to an exclusive club, whose rules involved ceremonies, the accumulation of knowledge and power, and seeking the admiration of their peers. They wouldn't admit the truth when they met it face to face.
Jesus told them they didn't even understand the basics of their profession. They said they placed their hope in Moses, who revealed God's law, but they ignored its spirit while observing the letter. They chased the shadow and rejected the substance.
Holy Spirit of God, you inspired the writers who gave us the scriptures. Open our minds and hearts to seek only God's love within them and never to use them as a cover for our own ends. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
St. Andrew's Methodist Church
The Stow, Harlow