It’s hard to recall a more chaotic time in our national politics. I’ve watched with a visceral concern, wondering what will happen to pensioners, struggling families, house-buyers, farmers, health and social care services, environmental regulations, carbon zero targets … I could go on, and I could add a list of concerns from other parts of the world. I’m reminded that Jesus felt a visceral compassion. Where my Bible reads a bit blandly that ‘he had compassion on them’ the original Greek esplangchnisthe peri autδn is more powerful and literally means ‘he felt pity in his guts for them’.
We have politicians who are clever, strong-willed, sometimes articulate, but the question I ask is: ‘Do they have compassion and do they have wisdom?’. A wise person will be willing to listen. A wise person will be willing to have their ideas well tested by others.
I found myself reminded of some helpful thoughts in a talk by Dave Bookless (founder of A Rocha UK). He took us to Solomon, the king proverbial for wisdom. When he became king his request to God was not for power or wealth, but for a ‘discerning heart’ . We’re told God answered that prayer and gave Solomon ‘wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding’ (1 Kings 3:9-14 NIV).
Notably, Solomon’s ‘wisdom and insight and understanding’ explicitly included an understanding of the world of nature: ‘He spoke about plant life, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. From all the nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom’ (1 Kings 4:33-34a). Clearly there is wisdom in seeking to understand the natural world, in all its beauty and all its complexity.
The late theologian and writer John Stott – who was also a keen birdwatcher – reminded us that we have two books: the book of God’s works (the natural world) and the book of God’s word (the Bible). It’s wise to make ourselves students of both, and, with discerning hearts, may we ask God to show us where we can step up and act in love and courage.
This reflection was written by Andy Jowitt for our Wild Christian email, ‘nature and stepping up’. Andy is A Rocha UK’s Volunteer Community Engagement Officer at our Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve in north Essex. Tune in next month (November 2022) for more bible reflections from Andy.