Monday, March 07, 2005

Are we there yet?

All parents have been on car journeys constantly interrupted by a tiny voice in the back of the car asking 'are we there yet?'

It's one of the ultimate faith questions. The tiny voice, belonging to a being that trusts its parents implicitly and absolutely, believes that 'there' is worth seeing; but more than that, 'there' has to be better than the interminable boredom of getting there.

Lots of Christians want to be 'there' - however they define that - because the getting there is sometimes hard, painful, sorrowful, often dull and only rarely, it seems, any fun at all.

We ought to read Habakkuk more often. This startlingly contemporary OT prophet about whom we know next to nothing, wrote soon after 605BC and yet could be speaking about our world. His portrait of the arrogance of Babylon is as compelling a portrait of the 21st century western world as you could hope to find. It certainly provides more prescient analysis of our condition than the broadsheets manage.

But while his social critique is salutary, his portrait of the life of faith is stunning. In many ways it contains the high watermarks of OT faith - 2:14, 3:17-19 (go on look them up at - and a startling throw-away line about the just living by faith (2:4) that is picked up three times in the New testament (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:37-38).

In fact the apparently throw-away line is a picture of the person of faith embedded in a world of cynicism and unbelief and not just clinging on by her finger nails, but living a radiant, god-reflective life, buoyed up by her trust in God's eternal faithfulness. What a picture!

So, whatever you're going through at the moment, read Habakkuk - it's hard going in places, shockingly violent in others, but ultimately faith-affirming in the complex and troubling world in which we live. And if you want more details check out the sermon download section of my church website ( - the fourth in the series will be there on 13 March

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