If it feels good, and you’re not hurting anyone, do it.
Image source: Pixabay
Sounds good. Especially when you feel you have been bound by guilt ridden rules that seem to repress fun and feel petty or irrelevant. Sometimes you don’t realise you are hurting people with your words or actions but then there is a realisation of unconscious bias or ingrained thoughts and behaviours that have not been challenged. But what about the things we do, which no-one even knows about let alone is impacted by, that we enjoy but might actually be wrong? Do they matter?

I’m wondering this after the news of Number 10’s revelation that working there is so enjoyable it feels like one long party. Lots of socialising happening in a government office, when this was banned by that government.

On the one hand, those working outside with drinks in their hands, or finishing what was likely to have been a hard week with a relaxed team gathering, doesn’t seem too bad. No-one was hurt by this at the time; it took place behind closed doors; it was a natural way of decompressing after the rigours and pressures of that time. So, what makes this wrong?

At the same time there were others who were abiding by rules aimed at combating the spread of the virus, such as not being able to visit relatives or those who were sick and dying. Having an office party or even quiet social would not have any practical effect on these other situations and yet the disregard for the rules of the time does indeed have a moral impact.

This is the side of wrongdoing (the Bible uses the overarching word, sin) that we generally ignore or discount as oppressive, but God sees the big picture of morality and hurt: from the actions of violence; through the attitudes that reveal themselves in hurtful words and behaviour; to these aspects of omission where it is what we don’t do that ends up disturbing the invisible but real moral universe.

Religion – in its fervour to be right with God – is often obsessed with not sinning, and this may lead to repression and guilt. But the Bible does not promote this approach. Instead, it outlines – through story, poetry, and the prophetic word – the nature of right and wrong and offers a solution that is about a renewed conscience, a desire to bless others and a freedom to enjoy life in God’s world, in God’s way.

Most of us break rules when we see that they don’t seem that relevant to a given situation. And we usually do it without a thought. I’m sure most of those attending Downing Street functions were not doing so in a malicious way. It was simply thoughtless – an act that would usually be brushed aside. And yet, in the face of the pain of those who could not even sit with a dying friend or relative, or whose lives felt imprisoned to the point of breakdown, we see that innocent drinks on a patio play their part in the corruption and decay of a fallen world.

Jesus walks into this kind of moral mess, with forgiveness for those who have ignorantly or even deliberately broken rules that really do impact others. And he gives grace to those who mourn and are wounded, by healing hearts and setting things right through the rule of his coming Kingdom.

It is for these kinds of situations that we are reading about at the moment that Jesus came to cleanse and restore us. Come Lord Jesus and baptise this land with your Spirit.

Martin J Young


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