You’re wrong, I’m right!

CartoonAn inch – the exact length of the tip of my little finger! Or for those who are unfamiliar with Imperial measurements: 2.54 cm. That short distance is at the centre of a court case brought by two men from New Jersey, John Farley and Charles Pendrak. They are taking the sandwich shop chain Subway to court because the “Footlong” sandwiches they bought were one inch (or less) shorter than a foot. However, whether the two men lost out at all is contentious. The Life Inc. website reports that, “online commenters identifying themselves as Subway employees speculated that the consumers were receiving exactly the same dough as others who got 12-inch subs, but that the dough, which arrives frozen at franchise locations, hadn’t been properly tugged, pulled and “proofed” before it was baked.”

To be fair I must declare an interest, having bought some very tasty £3 Subway lunches on one or two business trips recently. But what’s your verdict? Should their dough just have been tugged a bit further or was Subway already aware that its ‘Footlongs’ were not a foot long? Should these men be rewarded for standing up for “the little guy”, and not allowing big business to trample all over them – remembering that Subway is run on a franchise system, so all their shops are “little guys”? Or do you think that there are more important matters in this world, personal crises in many people’s lives – even in the States – people who genuinely deserve their day in court, if only there was someone to represent them? These questions are rarely black and white.

We may not take people to court over the length of a sandwich, but we may still judge people in our hearts, often without having the full facts. God once reminded the prophet Samuel, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) What about the homeless guy whom we see in the street? I heard this week of a former chauffeur to a foreign royal family, who is now living on the streets of Britain.  As the saying goes, there but for the grace of God go I.

We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human – even so, we need to accept others and allow them to be who they are. OK, if someone’s committed a crime there should be justice, but for most of us, whether it’s a fashion faux-pas, a slip of the tongue, our skin colour or even a life on the streets, what we need is encouragement not judgement.

Jesus was not one to criticise or condemn, unless you were a religious hypocrite that is; instead he showed love and compassion to the downtrodden and the marginalised, becoming known as “a friend of sinners”. The religious leaders once brought to him a woman caught with a man who wasn’t her husband. The legal sentence was death by stoning. Jesus answered, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The crowd began to melt away. When the last of her accusers had gone, Jesus’ response was one of understanding and forgiveness. “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?”  he asked.

“No one, sir,” she answered.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.” (John 8:2-11)

Eternity’s treasure

pearl
The most valuable pearl

A suitcase containing nearly one million Australian dollars was left in a Sydney restaurant last week by a “really nervous” man, who was later arrested by police. He was then taken to hospital for unspecified treatment, while being kept under police guard. The legal owner of the money is as yet unknown.

Two thousand years ago, Yeshua (Jesus) told a story about a merchant who didn’t lose everything, but who sold everything to gain just one very valuable pearl. We, who seek spiritual meaning and fulfilment in our lives, are likened to that merchant, who gave his all to possess this most beautiful treasure. The pearl, of course, represents Yeshua himself.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:45-46)

A personal relationship with Yeshua is the world’s most valuable possession. Beyond cost, it cannot be bought; it cannot be earned. It is a free gift given by Yeshua to all who are prepared to humble themselves and put their trust in Him. His love, acceptance and forgiveness are the only possible things we can take with us into eternity. The jazz singer, Helen Shapiro, who herself came to trust Yeshua as Messiah and Saviour, sang of Him as “Eternity’s Treasure – the Pearl!”

Celebrity status

photographers
Paparazzi

During a television interview this week, well-known British actor, Robert Lindsay, was asked why he’d grown a beard – was it for a forthcoming role? “No,” the actor replied. It was to help him look more anonymous. I don’t blame him! A private life – a time to relax and recharge your batteries, a time to be yourself with those you love – is important for us all. In his book Sunrise, Sunset Rowland Croucher, the Australian writer, defines a celebrity as “someone who works all his life to become famous enough to be recognised, then goes around in dark glasses so no one will know who he is!”

These two opposing ideas, of wanting and not wanting to be known, sum up the attitude of many to a supreme being. Many in this world want to remain anonymous, to go about unseen; not like Robert Lindsay, so they can enjoy a private life, but so that they can do as they please, without reference to a supreme being who may challenge their moral choices. They try to convince themselves and others that there is no evidence for God, and therefore no accountability.

Others wish that they had a God who was interested in them. They try to earn God’s attention through religion, good works etc. Yet believing that they are no one special, they live without God because they have been sold the lie that God only accepts perfect people. The truth is that God accepts us as we are. We don’t need a log book filled with 3,000 hours of good deeds, or a briefcase filled with religious certificates. We don’t need special knowledge, or to understand hidden mysteries. We don’t have to wear or even own smart clothes, and we don’t have to be famous to receive God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness. He loves you as you are, and always has done! God’s offer of eternal life is a genuinely free gift; it can’t be earned. All He asks is that you come to Him, humbly seeking a new start, prepared to give Him your future and trusting in what He did for you on that cross two thousand years ago, when He took the rap for what you and I have done. As Jesus said: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)