“God Will See Us Home” (Part 1) – “Clearing the Smog” by Jeremy Marks
1952: The year of the Great Smog in central London, where my parents had their first home, is vividly remembered by my mother for the terrible air quality. You could not go out because visibility in daytime was down to a couple of feet; you could not open a window or the room would soon be filled with smog. Ambulances could not run; all private and public transport stopped except for the underground. Five days of dense smog killed 4-6,000 people whilst another 100,000 were severely affected by respiratory problems.
The government was forced to take decisive action. Eventually. Four years later, the Clean Air Act was passed, but the changes were too slow to prevent another smog ten years later. Fortunately my parents took the decision to move out of London to a more healthy environment.
The deadly impact of the Great Smog was immediate and very dramatic.
More insidious but no less dramatic, is the toxic spiritual smog in our country today. This is profoundly unsettling. National turmoil created by Brexit has been the catalyst to spawning deep divisions in our society. News reports full of endless speculation and polemic do nothing to help matters. This has resulted in profound disillusionment and frustration for very many people.
In stark contrast, disciples of Jesus Christ who seek to follow his teachings, have an eternal perspective not confined to this life with its many disappointments and traumas. Instead we place our confidence in God’s goodness and eternal sovereignty.
But to benefit from this knowledge we must have an unambiguous strategy – to guard our hearts from the toxic effects of our national attitude of cynicism and hostility.
In his letter to the Philippians, St Paul gives a clear strategy to eschew this kind of scepticism and negativity. Throughout Scripture we are instructed to “Rejoice in the Lord always”; to rise above our national malaise and live in hope now and for the future. Striving to make strategic changes to the situation, however much relief that might bring temporarily, is no solution.
Authentic change begins with the heart! Rarely do we see the need for change in our own heart attitude – the very essence of repentance – until we’ve exhausted all our own schemes and the mounting crises all around us become so overwhelming that we are forced to stop in our tracks.
Then we might begin to see the things that are good, true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. These excellent, praiseworthy qualities can be seen everywhere in God’s world when our eyes are open. To “think on these things” provides the oxygen we need for our souls.
The Great Spiritual Smog begins to clear as we open our mouths to share the divine perspective.
The decision to live with a clean heart and wholesome outlook is ours; nobody else can make that for us. It is the outworking of a pilgrim’s resolve to follow Jesus Christ – the Lord of all.
And it is the way of peace.
Thanks be to God for the gift of life and and breath in us; for those good relationships that we have and the abundance of opportunity every day to love and encourage others, and thereby make the love of God known to all.
Through Christ Jesus our Lord.