Tuesday, May 04, 2010

"superfluity of naughtiness"

Jottings towards preaching at our BCP Communion on Thurs. (The BCP epistle for 4th Sunday after Easter is James 1:17-21).

You’ve got to love the language of the Prayer Book and the King James Bible, haven’t you?

Here’s our old friend “the superfluity of naughtiness!” (James 1:21).

You don’t need me to tell you. I’m sure, that “superfluity” means a superfluous amount or nature of something, so James is saying there’s more than enough naughtiness, naughtiness that is needless and redundant, superfluous.

For “superfluity of naughtiness” the NIV has “the evil that is so prevalent”.

I’m tempted tell Jono next time he’s misbehaving that, “we’ve has a “superfluity of naughtiness” already, thank you very much!”.

The point is there’s a surplus or abundance of evil in our world, and who could disagree with that?

You don't need me to prove to you that our world is full of filth and evil and wrong.

Whether or not you agree with David Cameron that we live in Broken Britain, we know that we live in a broken world, don't we?

Everywhere there is injustice, suffering and pain.

Our epistle gives us some insight into the source of evil and it's solution.

So first of all, the source of evil: where does it come from?

First of all, certainly not from God!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

God is the Father of light, pure and radiant.

He is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

He is utterly consistent in his moral perfection.

No, the problem is not God but you and me.

At the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

James hints at this when he tells us that "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God".

Jesus tells us in the Gospel (John 16:5-15) of the Holy Spirit's work:

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment"

We're such inveterate sinners that we can't even recognise our own sin!

We need the Holy Spirit to open our blind eyes so that we can recognise not only the evil in the world around us, but the evil within each of us.

So what's the solution to evil? What's the answer to all that's wrong in the world?

It won't surprise us to discover its neither Brown, Cameron nor Clegg, nor any of the other parties standing for election today.

The power comes from God alone:

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

We need to be born again by the Word of God in the power of the Spirit.

We are to "receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls".

We depend on Jesus' saving work and we need him to send us his Spirit that we might receive his word.

So, by the power of the Spirit, will you "lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls"?

That is the only hope for us and for our world.

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