In my Film and Faith sessions I sometimes ask folk about their earliest memories of going to the cinema. Mine is seeing the beautiful Whistle Down the Wind. When Kathy and her friends find a criminal hiding in their barn they mistake him for Jesus, and do their best to look after him. However, when the man in the barn lets one of their kittens die they go looking for a vicar to ask about this…
I love that little comment at the end, so beautifully delivered… ‘He doesn’t know, does he?’ There are so many difficulties in life and it seems to me that following Jesus is not about having the answers to life’s hard questions or an opinion about every difficult issue.
What we find in the Bible instead is a whole host of people who lived with terrible difficulties – often In oppressed countries, with poor incomes, ever-present danger, and insurmountable problems. And God with them in their troubles. And sometimes their troubles grew worse after they chose to trust in God, because of oppression from others. As is still the case today. When the people of Israel were snatched from their homeland in ancient times, and dumped into Babylon, they found their kidnappers taunting them to sing a song about their God. So they did sing, about not being able to find the right words. You can read this in Psalm 137. The Bible is full of many such songs full of questions, hope, anguish and faith.
Life is hard, the world can be reckless and brutal, and God saw that. So he plunged himself into the harshness. He didn’t just splash about in the shallows but leapt into the dark depths of our being. Dived in to a life of risk and struggle and stress. Landed amongst the rebels and stragglers and the not-very-spiritual, with courage and hope in his hands and a smile for those he met. Vulnerable and dust-spattered, he tipped the rule book on its head; throwing wide the gates of heaven when he died, looking like a helpless criminal. And then strolled free of his grave looking for all the world like a humble, local gardener. We may not find answers to all our questions, or opinions for the gritty issues, but that doesn’t mean we cannot find purpose and direction and identity as we choose to follow him.