Summary: A sermon looking at honesty and integrity in the life of Christian.
When I preach I always go on about reading it in context. About establishing the original context of when it was written, who it was written to and what the situation described was. How the original readers would have understood that. That is all very important. But there is of course another context. Our context. When you study preaching at college, it’s all about bridging the two contexts. This morning, I want to start with my context. Whenever you read a passage you always things going on your mind, things you’ve been reading, watching, listening to and thinking about. Often what you are thinking about influences how you read Scripture. Or as your reading Scripture it reminds you of something you have read or seen. So this morning what I want to do to start this sermon is to tell you five things that were going through my mind as I was reading these passages. Hopefully this helps you see where I am coming from so that when we look at the Bible we all know where we are going.
The first of these is the Hutton Report. Did any of you watch it on TV. For me it was compulsive viewing. While the Hutton Report was going on, my days off were spent in front of the TV watching it all unfold on News 24. And when I was working at my computer it would be on in the background so I could catch up with the latest developments. Then the other week, Lord Hutton’s report was finally published. I listened to his live comments on the report and downloaded the Hutton report itself from the internet, although I have to admit I only read a wee bit of it. Then there was was the debates in the house of commons and on Question time afterwards. And they all centred on one idea, that of truthfulness, honesty or integrity. It’s all about who was telling the truth and who was not. Then we get into the complicated stuff, like who was strictly speaking telling the truth but doing so with the intent to deceive.
The truth. In our society it has become so important, yet so illusive. On Question Time after the Hutton enquiry one of the questions that was asked was about the approach of Journalists. When they interviewed Politicians it was assumed that there was something there that they were not telling the journalist or the public and even at one point it was asked if journalists started from the point of view that politicians were lying.
Secondly, it’s another government one, this time its tuition fees. Now I don’t want to get political but I actually agree with the whole variable after the fact tuition fees scheme the government has come up with. I think its a very sensible solution to the problem. I’m not claiming the Bible or Christianity backs me up here it’s just my opinion. However, the problem I have is that in the Labour party manifesto they promised not to introduce variable tuition fees. While, I don’t question Tony Blair’s honesty and I actually agree with his policy, this does raise questions of integrity.
The third of my things is from a series of books by a writer called Robert Jordan. In this book there is group called the Aes Sedai. They are magic users and some have great powers. Because of these powers they have been mistrusted in the past. To allow them to function they set up a system of oaths taken on magical rod which ensures that they have to keep them. One of these oaths is to speak no word which is untrue, in other words not to lie. Over time however, they learned that this was not quite as much of a restriction as it might seem. There were a great many ways to say things which were entirely true but which ended up being misleading and getting people to believe things that are not true. Of course other people began to realise this and so you always look at whatever an Aes Sedai said, forwards, backwards, in a mirror or any other way you could think of. Despite they’re vow not to lie, unless they came out and said something very straightforward which didn’t happen very often they were still not trusted.
For example, to briefly return to the whole war with Iraq / Hutton Enquiry thing, one of the key questions that is know being asked of the government is that when they said weapons of mass destruction could be ready within 45 minutes, did they know that this was referring to battlefield weapons but say it in such a way that parliament, journalists and the country at large thought that it referred to missiles that were a danger to the UK. Telling the truth with the intention that someone else comes to believe something that is not true.