No, not the Back to Basics of the British Conservative party which gloriously backfired on them in the 1990s, I,m thinking about a return to Christian basics.
At Holy Trinity Huddersfield, Mike, our Vicar, has started a series of sermons on John’s first letter. It is believed that the letter was a response to the growth of Gnosticism in the early days of the church, though this is not explicit in the text.
Last year I spent a long time looking at Paul’s letter to the Colossians, it too is responding to the growth of heretical views in the early days of Christianity, and again what those views it is reacting to is not explicit. What both Paul in Colosians and John in his first letter do, is instead of responding with criticism of their opponents philosophy and a breakdown of what was wrong with their views, they instead talk about who Jesus was and did.
It is a back to basics view of Christianity. Not talking about what other do which is wrong, but making sure that what we are saying and doing is right. And to do that we are reminded that it is all about Jesus.
The old joke puts it like this:
A pastor was giving the children’s message during church. For this part of the service, he would gather all the children around him and give a brief lesson before dismissing them for children’s church.
On this particular Sunday, he was using squirrels for an object lesson on industry and preparation. He started out by saying, “I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.” The children nodded eagerly.
“This thing lives in trees (pause) and eats nuts (pause)…” No hands went up. “And it is gray (pause) and has a long bushy tail (pause)…” The children were looking at each other, but still no hands raised. “And it jumps from branch to branch (pause) and chatters and flips its tail when it’s excited (pause)…”
Finally one little boy tentatively raised his hand. The pastor breathed a sigh of relief and called on him. “Well,” said the boy, “I *know* the answer must be Jesus … but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!”
And it really is all about Jesus. Our attitudes to others should be based on the attitudes Christ had. As John put it: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1 John 3:16.
Or Paul: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Col 1:15-16 both ESV.
Wouldn’t it be better if Christians based what they said and did on Jesus, and what Jesus told us to do, rather than spend our time attacking others, or even each other, and supposing we are spreading the gospel by doing so.