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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Back in the heady days of the late 1990s and early Naughties, The Internet gave rise to a new breed of company. The likes of Google and Amazon.com were names unheard of before and they challenged established brands like latter day Davids vs Goliaths. The Internet had changed everything, this time it would be different, this time it would be better!

Now of course, these Internet companies (at least the ones who survived) are today’s global mega-corporations. But, are things really different now? This week, I was dismayed to hear that both Google and Amazon (companies that I use regularly) are among those accused of using various shenanigans to avoid paying the proper rate of UK tax (100% legal but of dubious morality).

Also recently, Google has controversially merged the personal data it holds on us gathered from various companies it has acquired over the years. Google’s unofficial motto is “Don’t be evil”. This is an obviously laudable objective but it seems to me if you make such a statement, it is a lot it live up to. The behaviour of these companies goes to highlight the human failings; “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It just goes to show how temptation and greed kick-in whenever we start to taste power and success.

Is the Church exempt from such temptations? Given the behaviour of powerful Church institutions over the centuries and even today, it appears not. Therefore, I suggest that anyone in power, who claims to know God, takes heed. Ask Him to lead them and help them avoid the pitfalls of abusing power and follow the one who is all-powerful yet made no attempt to enrich or gain comfort from himself, Jesus Christ.

“With great power comes great responsibility” is a quote ascribed to Spider Man’s Uncle Ben. It was derived originally from a speech by Franklin D Roosevelt. However, the true origin of the sentiment, if not the exact words, can be found in The Gospel of Luke chapter 12 verse 48:

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” NIV

PS: The photo of St Peters in Rome was taken by me earlier this year.  A symbol of religious power, its kind of relevant but a nice photo in any case.

Scaffolding and Stained Glass

This Sunday at THE MESSAGE (which is the evening service at Rothwell Baptist Church), I am to give a talk about Nicodemus. Nicodemus was the Jewish leader who went to see Jesus at the dead of night to find out what he was all about. Famously, Jesus told him that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven he had to be “Born Again” (You can read all about this conversation in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3).

Also, yesterday, I volunteered for a second time to be Wakefield Cathedral’s “Photographer of the day” in their “366 Days” project (http://www.366days.org.uk). If you didn’t know, Wakefield Cathedral is going through an extensive refurbishment programme; when I took photographs earlier in the year, they were removing the old pews, yesterday they were removing a load of scaffolding and it was interesting photographing the building works with the stained glass windows in the background.

When the Wakefield Cathedral project is complete, it will be a transformed space suiting its role as a working church at the centre of the community. It occurred to me that this project of transformation is like a re-birth analogous to what Jesus was talking about to Nicodemus. Jesus went on to say that what he meant was a spiritual re-birth, the life transformation that happens when someone becomes a Christian. Projects like Wakefield Cathedral however, take time, old infrastructure needs to be removed and painstaking work to re-build and preserve takes months, if not years.

It occurs to me that this is the same for anyone who becomes a Christian. Rather than instantly changing into a wise Jesus-like, figure who can do no wrong, they will learn and grow as they come to know God. We, with our rough edges and worn-out ideas are each long-term projects for God to transform. However, like the Cathedral we must let the builders in first and be prepared for radical change in our lives. In this analogy, the master builder of course is Jesus Christ and my suggestion is that if you haven’t done this already, you get him in as soon as possible to do a site survey!