Reality Bites

During my final term at Peace the words on this page will likely grow ever more philosophical and wistful. I don’t know if that’s usual or not for someone who is retiring. I’ve never done it before. I do feel a need however, to tie up some loose ends before our paths lead their separate ways.
I have tried during my time here in a number of different ways to explain something of the essence of a Lutheran school in general and Peace in particular. I am confident that many of us already have a good appreciation of these things but I wonder whether I might not still provoke some useful thinking and discussion?
In this edition I have some thoughts about what it means to be real.
Get real! What is the real issue here? Are you for real? Real happiness is a gift. If you made a real effort you would find it. “Real” is one of those short, useful words thick with meaning. I often use it when I talk about Peace Lutheran College. We are real, I say. We have real people as students and parents and real people as staff members. We have real issues and problems to deal with too. Most importantly of all we have a worldview and a faith that allows us to face reality without deceiving ourselves and seeking to disguise what is real or mask it with euphemisms.
We often see or hear or read in the media about how advanced we humans are; how far we have come; how clever we are; and how much in control of our destiny we are. If only we would try hard enough and work together we could save the forests, the oceans, the planet; eliminate poverty, disease, crime and war. Wouldn’t it be nice!
I would suggest these are ‘feel good’ messages but have little or no relationship to reality. The common denominator and inevitable obstacle to reaching perfection is us – humans.
Secular worldviews typically rely on the belief that somehow, if only we humans tried hard enough, we could solve any problem, no matter how awful or nasty. The trouble is that it never seems to quite work, does it? Someone always gets in the way. Bosses, striking workers, young delinquents, selfish people, criminals, boat people, right wing reactionaries, left wing revolutionaries – the list of potential culprits (scapegoats?) is a long one and we never seem to get to the end of it. Someone or something always seems to pop up to prevent the establishment of utopia. In fact, to persist in the belief that we can create a perfect world through human effort we need to ignore reality. Humans, when you scratch us, are a fairly ordinary lot, and are deeply flawed. That includes all of us.
At Peace we know we are not perfect. We are humans. We recognise and face up to the fact that we can never be the agents of our own salvation. We need to find salvation beyond ourselves and luckily we have that. We rely on the person of Jesus Christ. We face up to the reality that each of us at some time (and often much of the time) is going to come unstuck and do wrong, bad and evil. We simply cannot help ourselves. We are human after all. Being real for us is to accept this inconvenient truth.
At Peace we do not rely on our own righteousness, our own power, our own goodness to get us through. We acknowledge that from time to time each of us will do things we are less than proud of and disappoint each other. At these times we try not to withhold love, forgiveness and worth from the offender (although, because we are human, sometimes, shamefully, we fall short in this too).
I would like to think that Peace will continue to be real. We do not need to be a school that pretends that all is well within its walls (although don’t get me wrong. Peace is a great place) and papering over cracks to give the outward impression of perfection. We know, and you know, that such a thing can never be so. Facing this truth honestly and placing our reliance in the love and acceptance of our saviour Jesus Christ is our path. In doing this we are in a position to begin to see the needs of the lost, the damaged and the imperfect – in short, you and me and those we love.
Being a Christian is not about being perfect. It has absolutely nothing to do with it. I will try very hard not to scream when I next hear someone tell me smugly some Christians are hypocrites because they do bad things or that Christianity is all about living up to a moral code and values. Now that’s for real.


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