We can all learn from 'Harrygate'

Sometimes, even Christians need to grow up

Published 30 August 2012  |  
I guess we can learn all sorts of lessons from “Harrygate” not least the Biblical truth that “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

And then there was the coverage his nakedness. I have no idea what really motivated the Sun's managing editor to add to the Prince’s embarrassment, but I must defend his right to do so because freedom of expression is an indispensable corollary of a free society.

The thing that challenged me most however, arose from a simple comment I overheard that went something like this: “Don’t worry he’ll behave very differently when he finally grows up.” Now I have no idea if that observation will prove prophetic in Prince Harry’s case, only time will tell, but it did get me thinking about the church, and how differently we would react to each other if we behaved a little more maturely.

It’s no new problem of course. The church has always provided the world with more than enough evidence to prove that it can act very childishly. The apostle Paul used this kind of imagery when he wrote to the faction-ridden church at Corinth. He told them to stop focusing on celebrities and to appreciate everyone’s contribution, especially God’s. He suggested that they should rejoice in the richness of their diversity rather than impoverish themselves by their divisive behaviour. (1 Cors: 4)

He went even further in Chapter 13 by reminding them that they should be tolerant and respectful of each other because we all suffer from limited perspectives. “Where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known”. (1 Cors 13 NIV)

I wish my “charismatic” friends would take this to heart when engaging (or not engaging) with my “non charismatic" friends. And I would love to see my colleagues who reject female leadership behave more respectfully towards those who believe it is biblical. And, as we all know, these are but two issues that divide us and prompt us to behave childishly.
Christians can behave as selfishly as anyone too, and if anything smacks of childish behaviour it’s selfishness. “I want this (style of worship, choice of music etc) “I won‘t go along with that” are typical comments.

Someone has said that it soon becomes evident that every child is a potential dictator. A baby’s world revolves around the concepts of “What do I want?” or “What do I need?”. There’s nothing wrong with that because that’s the way babies are supposed to behave. But there’s something very much wrong when Christians act in this way. It’s important to understand that as we grow up in Christ, we must stop being preoccupied with ourselves and become more interested in the needs of others.

We need to develop a mature Christ-like mindset, the sort of mindset Paul describes in his letter to the church in Philippi. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 2 NIV)

For in the final analysis “growing up” will mean becoming more and more like Jesus, “The Paradigm Man”. As George Carey once wrote “The impact of Jesus lay in two directions: in his teaching he aroused men to realise their human predicament, and in his life he attracted men to a fulfilment of their humanity.” (Carey “I believe in Man” Hodder and Stoughton)

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