Rev. David Bartholomew (our Interim Moderator)

Dear Friends,

The image we project to the world can be very important to many of us. We want to keep up appearances and give the  impression that all is fine, that we are managing fine, even if at times beneath the surface of our lives there is a quiet despair and emptiness. But there is more to life than keeping up appearances, and sometimes we forget that God sees everything beneath the surface of our lives, he sees into our hearts and we can never pull the wool over his eyes. And that need not be a threatening thing but a liberating thing, as we remember that God has a Father heart of love towards us, that he wants the best for us. As we open our hearts towards him he can help resolve some of those tensions within our lives and bring a new healing and wholeness to us. God is looking for genuine people who admit their needs and brokenness and allow him to be part of the answer to their needs. It saddens him when people put a mask on and try and project a good image, while under the surface they are very different – especially when they put unrealistic demands on others.

Jesus had particularly harsh words for the religious leaders, the Pharisees, whom he saw as heaping unrealistic demands upon the people. You will find some of his harshest words in Matthew 23. Their trouble was that they were trying to make themselves acceptable to God by following God’s laws - and many other man-made laws that they added on to the list. And in the process they had lost touch with the God of love and grace who was behind the laws. He called them hypocrites, because they were good at putting up a good front while actually their lives were riddled with pride and self-righteousness. They had forgotten that God looks on the heart.

God is not just in the business of tinkering around on the surface of our lives, helping us out of difficulties that we find ourselves in. He wants to change our hearts. His words to us in the Bible can do a lot to change us as we allow them to come alive inside us. In Proverbs 4.20 God says to us, ‘Listen to my words. Never let them get away from you. Remember them and keep them in your heart. They will give life and health to anyone who understands them. Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’ If we allow negative thoughts to rule in our lives they will knock us down and lead us to despair.

But God has thrown us a life-line, and it doesn’t just come to us in the form of words to us – but even more so in his living Word to us, even Jesus Christ. The Word that became flesh amongst us, and brought the life of God to us in word and deed. The Word that still comes to us to take up residence in our hearts and change us from within. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has much to say on this. This is much more than seeing Christ as an example, someone we should aspire to copy and follow. It talks about the very life of Christ being birthed within us, receiving something of God within our very beings as his Spirit comes to take up residence in our hearts and lives. Christ seeks to transform us more and more into his image, making his strength available to us to nourish us on life’s journey. That is the way to victory and inner peace. God wants to give us a new heart and channel his love into our lives and through our lives to others. We will then find the old insecurities disappearing and no longer feel the need to hide behind our masks.

With all good wishes.

David Bartholomew
Interim Moderator