I apologise if this is too personal, but I needed to say something about my friend, mentor and guide in ministry and life.
Matthew 5: 38 – 39
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
A friend of mine died yesterday. It won’t make the obituary column of The Scotsman, but hopefully there will be few lines in L&W sometime about Rev Bob Jones. Not a remarkable man, he trained as an accountant, worked for several years in the motor trade before going into the Ministry. Two posts; Bannockburn in Stirling, and Marnoch New (Aberchirder) in Buchan, covering over thirty years. Much else? Well yes, a lot actually. He lost his first wife at the age of 30, and his second wife, who was also a widow, was an invalid for the last twenty years of her life. He had the great knack of getting on with just about anybody and everybody. I know of people who hate each other but they all call Bob a friend. He did have his problems, especially with his complicated family – both he and his second wife had children from their first marriages and at times he was very unhappy, especially in January – the anniversary of his first wife’s death. But you would never know that, for he always had a smile for you and would listen to whatever your problem was. When I received setbacks in my progress to ministry Bob was always the first one I called, he may not have had the answers but he always had the right word of encouragement.
He rolled with the punches life threw at him and merely turned the other cheek knowing God would be with him all the way. And he was.
That was not what I intended to write for Thursday, but after the pieces about victory I wanted to show another victory so if you indulge me here is an abbreviated version of that.
The Verse from Matthew was found on a Bible page that had somehow become infused onto a piece of charred concrete found in the rubble of The World Trade Centre. It was found by a salvage worker almost a year after the terrorist attack.
The verse speaks volumes of what our reaction should have been to that attack. Do not give the terrorists the victory of hating them.
I read an account of 9/11 written by a lady script writer. She was due to meet some movie producers in one of the Towers at 10 that morning. She met with her agent and a lawyer for a “power breakfast” to discuss the meeting then hailed a cab to go to the Trade Centre. When they were still a few blocks away the traffic stopped and they did not know why. As they anxiously looked at their watches not wanting to be late, the driver was in contact with his office and eventually told them a bit about what was happening and informed them he was required to drop them and return to his base where he might be needed.
The writer and her companions got out and not knowing what else to do they stood on the sidewalk and watched as fire crew after fire crew sped past. The crowds that were gathering started to cheer each crew as they went by and she joined in the applause.
As an open truck went by crammed with rescuers the thought struck her that the fifteen men on that truck altogether probably earned less in a year than she and her two companions did individually in a month, and yet, now as the smoke billowed up and the stench of burning choked them they could do nothing. All they could do was applaud those who could do something, often at high cost.
What would the world look like now if instead of seeking vengeance and retribution we had listened to Jesus’ words and had tried to find understanding and common ground? I know that would be far more difficult than seeking vengeance, but that is surely what God would have wanted.
It was the way Bob Jones lived his life, and it is the way Jesus died when in his last hours he prayed for his persecutors to be forgiven.
Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, when it seems everyone is after us, when we can find no friend to help us, be with us as our friend. Help us to stand with you, to have the courage to take all that is thrown at us, justly or unjustly, but to do so without hating but to answer all attacks with love so we may know your peace.
And thank you God for letting Bob Jones walk amongst us these 88 years; may we be worthy of his memory.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,