The Parish of Burchetts Green

Rev Keith explains why

Advent is a time to be realistic about ourselves


An uncomfortable truth

The Bible makes abundantly clear that we are flawed. We are made in the image of God but with that image debased. The truth of this is abundantly attested. The modern obsession with debunking and character assassination may be grossly over the top and to my mind deeply unpleasant, but we surely cannot but know that there is no such thing as the perfect man or the perfect woman. We are all flawed, and not just a little bit. We are all far more deeply flawed than we ever like to admit to others or to ourselves.

Society's answer

Society's answer to this problem is to pretend that it doesn't exist. Self-deceit is a curse of our age. It manifests itself in a variety of way. Spin is basically politicians making out that they are other than they actually are. Sooner or later they start believing their own propaganda and fall flat on their faces. But spin is not confined to politicians; we all walk around with masks on. Advertisers of branded goods encourage us to create a false identity, as does excessive following of the fashions. Living this way invites disappointment.

Making excuses

But nowhere is the problem of self deception more acute than in our reluctance to accept that we might ever be wrong. Blame culture fans the flames and says: 'If I've made a mistake it isn't my fault, it's someone else's. It's my upbringing, education, financial needs, stress, it's my partner, my colleagues, the government...the one thing that's certainly not to blame is the real me; the one thing that's certainly not flawed is my personality or my character.'

The problem is that the more we believe this lie the more likely it is that sooner or later the rotten bits of our character will manifest themselves in an obvious and possibly catastrophic way.

A simple answer

In The Bible, St John offers a surprisingly simple solution to the problem of flawed character - admit it, or to be more precise, admit it to God.

'If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' The act of being honest with ourselves about our true nature and confessing that fact to God is the key to character transformation.

A penitential season

In Advent, the season before Christmas, we wait for God's coming to us in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. It is also a penitential season - a chance to be realistic about ourselves and make that simple admission to God that too have our flaws and need God's forgiveness and help. We need to be reminded that we aren't always the people God intended us to be - sin is a reality that affects everyone. But fortunately God has a solution to these problems,an eternal quality of life that begins here and now and continues beyond physical life, an eternal kind of life made possible for each one of us by faith in Jesus.

Wishing you every blessing,