When some nastardly, dastardly so-and-so decides to hack into British intelligence and reveal the identities of every single British agent there is only one thing for it. Bring back the one man who can save the world, yes – Johnny English!
So the haplessly successful Johnny English returns, with his mumbling, bumbling and somehow winning ways. Leaving chaos and bad guys in his wake. They do say that many men wish they were James Bond and I sometimes mention when speaking that I’d like to think I’m 007, suave, sophisticated, sure-of-myself… but I am much more like Johnny English – bumbling and buffooning along. The great thing about the upending nature of the kingdom of God is that God takes both James Bond types and Johnny English types and draws them into his life and purposes and plans for this world. And not world domination, but world-liberation. Little by little, one compassionate courageous act at a time.
The art of Kintsugi of Japan entails taken broken pots and gluing them back together, not with invisible adhesive but using glue mixed with gold, so that the cracks stand out and become part of the intricate patterns on the pottery. No doubt we all wish we could hide our faults and weakness away, but many times with God he wants to take those things which we think of as design faults and use them as design features. We find the mistakes and misdemeanours of the biblical heroes writ large across the territory of the Bible. Famously Peter’s bloopers feature regularly as he follows Jesus. And so many of us love the big fisherman for this, we can relate to him, we see ourselves in him, and we discover that he learned by making a boat-full of gaffs. May we be saved from a kind of religion which is only about success and triumph; not least because God himself did his most powerful universe-saving work when his son was lost and broken and abandoned, pinned in darkness on a barbaric cross. ‘Sometimes,’ the writer Paul wrote, ‘God’s power works best in our weakness.’ It did on Good Friday and continues to do so today.