My family and I went to Hanningfield Reservoir yesterday for a quiet day out but it turned out though that it was the Hanningfield Triathlon and so our walk was far from peaceful!
For the first part of our walk, there was a continual thud, thud, thud as someone ran up behind and past us every few seconds. At first I was annoyed about this, after all our peace had been shattered, but then I remembered that the woodland we were walking in didn’t belong to us.
As I thought about this some more, I suddenly became aware of how polite the runners were being as they thanked us for moving out of their way. Many even said don’t worry as we apologized for not moving out of their way fast enough but their attitude was to try to head around us rather than to complain. As my attitude towards these people changed, I saw more clearly who they really were!
These Triathletes didn’t consider that the woodland was theirs and we didn’t consider it to be ours and so we got along fine.
We have been reading some of Wind in the Willows to our girls at bedtime for the past few weeks and we especially wanted to visit the reservoir because they have statues of the Wind in the Willows characters.
I found the Triathletes strange because they all looked exhausted and yet they kept going and they also didn’t stop to look at the amazing sculptures of Toad and his friends. Although I found it hard to relate to the runners, I was glad that it was their woodland as well.
How do you feel about the world around you?
Do you think or act like it is yours?
Are we willing to share our part of the world with others and to be glad that they can live well in it even if we feel like we can’t relate to them?
I am ashamed of the anti immigration rhetoric in Great Britain today. Personally, I am delighted that people of all cultures and backgrounds can share in the life of the UK.
I think that the key issue that defines how we approach immigration is whether we see ourselves primarily as citizens of our country or of the world?
If we see ourselves first and foremost as world citizens then we should have no real problem with immigration and we should actually welcome people freely of all backgrounds.
The Bible says that ‘God so loved the world’ and if God loves every person in this world (yes, that even involves Triathletes!) then part of following must involve me loving and welcoming them as well. When asked ‘who is my neighbour?’ Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan which shows someone helping a fellow human being in need even though they were from different countries, religions and cultures. Jesus taught that we should love our neighbours and the example he gives of what this looks like involves our attitude towards people who we might not find it easy to identify with. Although we might not relate to them easily, Jesus wants us to consider them our neighbours who we should love.
Many Christians are fearful of immigration because they worry about people from other religions coming and corrupting our country and leading Christians away from their faith. This attitude has always made me sad because it shows such a lack of confidence in God.
Personally, I am delighted that people from other countries and religions are moving to the UK. In some of these countries it is illegal to promote Christianity but here in the UK they can hear the good news about following Jesus. Rather than being afraid of Christianity being diluted, I am actually grateful for the opportunity that God is giving his church and I pray that God’s kingdom would grow and increase.
How will we treat people today?
Are we angry because we can’t relate to them or perhaps because they are stomping too close to us?
Hopefully we are giving thanks for the people around us each day? Hopefully we want to do what we can to live well alongside them to make the world a better place for all of us to live in together.
Are we willing to accept that God loves the whole world and are we willing to follow his lead by loving the people of the world too?
If you want to think some more about immigration then you might find The one about the illegal immigrant from Peru helpful.