5.4.16

Exposure

John 3.16-21 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

We are living in interesting times and I have had cause to think about these gospel verses in recent months: all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

The Ashley Madison Agency, catering for people who are in a relationship yet want to date, with its slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair" was hacked last summer and names and addresses of its users were released into the public domain.

This week the Panama Papers leaked 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, showing the ways the rich exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders and 139 politicians, Vladimir Putin, Cameron's father, Pakistan’s prime minister; the president of Ukraine and the prime minister of Iceland, who resigned yesterday are amongst those exposed.

The problem with the world-view which operates behind such dealings is exactly that which Ashley Maddison is bold enough to declare: Life is short. For Christians life is not short, it is everlasting, Jesus, as we hear in the verse John 3:16, the most quoted scripture in the Bible and the founding synopsis of our faith, came to bring us eternal life, this is a quality of life in Him that does not end when our earthly life is over, in Christ, we live for ever in God's presence and living this quality of life that the Bible describes as everlasting or eternal life begins the moment we give our lives to Christ and then continues on in him without interruption.

The problem with the Ashley Maddison claim that life is short and you should have an affair is that is completely forgets that there is something sacred about marriage, about commitment, about unions that are in fact parables of the relationship with Christ and the church, where Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride who will one day be presented to him spotless and then there will be the wedding feast that we hear about. Betrothal language is everywhere in describing God's relationship with his people. Marriage imaging this is for Christians life-long, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, which is why we make vows based on our wills not just our fleeting feelings – when asked whether you take your betrothed to be your beloved you will have answered I will rather than I do – you will to love for ever even in the times when you fall out and don't like each other too much.

Those who hide their wealth so that it not leak away on taxes forget that they are a part of the body corporate, they are that society, those citizens for whom those taxes provide hospitals and schools and pavements and sewers. For Christians our interdependence is everything and makes us distinct from the world, we are one body and when one part hurts the whole body hurts, we engage in reciprocal relationships and we honour the weaker parts, our more vulnerable members.

Our transparency as Christians, our honesty and our levels of commitment to one another and to the comon good are where we can be distinctive within a world that lives for the moment, accumulates for the moment and gratifies the moment, let this be not so for us those who will live in Him eternally. Amen.

Collect: Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father.

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