It is a remarkably simple concept but one that holds true for both the physical world and for the world of human interaction. We cannot heal what we refuse to hold.
The more we look to reject those we despise the less able we are to find a solution to both their problems and ours. Jesus echoed this in his famous golden rule ... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Until we are prepared to do that all we have is darkness and hate.
But where to begin? Law, education, politics? All these are traditional areas of work in relation to the ills of society and they are important. Strong institutions make for long-term stability.
But the one thing which has enabled Western society to rise above the vagaries of the human spirit and the drive for power, which infects every part of human existence, is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Whether you are a person of faith or not the claims of Jesus have remained as vital and effective today as they were when he made them over 2000 years ago and, as a result, this one life and death has helped and redefined the lives of more people than any law or any higher knowledge. What are those claims?
Let’s focus on three. Firstly, Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest". The deep weariness of individuals fighting economic, social and personal battles is perhaps worse today that at any time in the recent past.
Governments promise relief but cannot honour their promises. Institutions meant to help become another immense frustration because of under-resourcing and overpromising. Christ promises rest; deep, abiding rest beginning with the heart of every individual who will truly come to him.
Secondly, Jesus promises abundant life, life that is worth the living, life that is full. He says, "I have come that they might have life and have it to the fullest". The deep malaise we find ourselves in at present and which is accompanied by almost unheard of statistics around self-harm is a sign that we are not experiencing this life today despite our wealth and technological advances.
Much depends on where we look to give us that life and it is clear that the usual suspects are not working for us. Indeed, they never did. Wealth, pleasure and power simply do not work. What is needed is someone who knows us better than we know ourselves, and that person is Jesus.
Finally, Jesus says "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you". This promise is associated with life after death. Jesus promises to come and get us and lead us into the next life.
This life is and will be always associated with loss. Death ensures that. But Christ’s words give hope that this life is but a preparation for the next life and that we can have hope if we look to Christ, and hope is vital.
Now you may struggle to belief this, and I can understand that, but the key to entering into these promises is not to rely on our belief but simply to ask.
Jesus says "Ask and you shall receive". Why don’t you ask today? Why don’t you call out to God for faith to belief these things which have already changed millions and are still effective today?
Just say something like "Jesus, help me."
■Richard Dawson is the Presbyterian minister at Leith Valley Church in Glenleith, Dunedin. He has been moderator of the Presbyterian Church.