I will never forget the time when after days of severe weather, the River Thames burst its banks and much of Central London was flooded. In fact the water level rose so high, that other than by boat, the only alternative way to get around was to swim. And it was then I saw a young female in distress. She was close to my age, looked plump, had shortish curly hair and wore spectacles. And she was crying for help.
I managed to reach her, and thanks to my own training as a life-saver back in the early seventies, I successfully towed her to safety. Safe on a building, a high ledge or area of high ground, she was weeping with gratitude for saving her life and I held her tight, consoling and comforting her.
It must have been some time later, when the streets of London had returned to normal, that I had found out where she worked. Longing to see her again with high hopes of a relationship leading to marriage, I located the building and having entered, I rushed up several flights of stairs. I then entered her office, a rather plush environment. There she was. It was definitely her, the young woman I rescued earlier from drowning. But this time she looked different. Although still wearing glasses, her hair was longer and straighter, and no longer plump, she had slimmed to become a beautiful woman in her own right.
She turned to see me standing at the door. But instead of rushing over to greet me as was expected, she remained at her desk and just turned to look at me, without smiling. She then literally turned her nose up on me before resuming her work. Crushingly disappointed, I understood her message perfectly well. With myself from a working-class background, she perceived me to be beneath herself, a social inferior. The type of man she was looking for had to be one holding a degree and with a high-income earning profession. Despite saving her life I wasn't good enough for her. It was as simple as that.
Feeling defeated and humiliated, amidst bustling traffic and pedestrians, I sauntered along Millbank, then into Abingdon Street, approaching Parliament Square. How I wished that the streets of London were still under water! Life seemed much more fulfilling during the crisis. I turned to look towards the world-famous Government building. On a level of paving between it and myself were two puddles, each between 15-18 inches across, and no more than half inch deep. Those two puddles, each quite close to each other, were the only remnant of the flood which earlier inundated the city. I stood to look at the two puddles and wished to turn back the clock. Then finding myself in bed at my bachelor's pad, I realised that it was all a dream. But a dream from which not only did I wake up remembering in full detail but still fully remembered vividly more than thirty years later.
Yet the dream still has an affect on me to this day. But it's certainly not a new phenomenon. In the Bible, the Pharaoh king of Egypt had two dreams, one after another but each carrying the same line of meaning. The king was disturbed by it all and Joseph, who had a reputation for interpreting dreams, explained their meaning to Pharaoh. Like with me, he must have remembered those dreams for the rest of his life. Then there was the famous one experienced by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He hadn't been on the throne for that long, but his dream of a giant statue fully demolished by a moving boulder sent shivers down his spine, and demanded a genuine interpreter who would not take advantage of his circumstance. With the prophet Daniel revealing the dream and its interpretation, he too must have remembered his dream for the rest of his life.
Then there was the other Joseph, the husband of Mary and the adopted father of Jesus Christ. Joseph had several dreams, four in all, the first three telling him what to do and the fourth was a warning. The first one was for him to go ahead and marry Mary, despite his belief in her unfaithfulness. The second was a command for him and his family to flee to Egypt, and the third to return to his homeland of Israel. The fourth was a warning not to resettle in Judea but to return to his home town of Nazareth. No doubt, Joseph too must have remembered all those dreams for the rest of his life. And furthermore, we can read about all those dreams thousands of years later.
|A dream led Joseph and his family here.|
Whether my dream, in the mid eighties, of London flooded was a message from God or not, I can't be dogmatic either way. But it seemed to have been packed with meaning. There was this woman in distress, unable to save herself. Then I swam to her and towed her to safety. But in order for me to do so, she had to submit to me fully, and allow me to do all the rescuing. There was nothing she could do to earn her safety, nor could she help me either. I had to do it all.
Beginning to look familiar?
Because that is what the Son of God had to do to bring me, and all other believers, to safety. Like her I was lost in the sea of sin, and like her, unable to earn or work towards my salvation. All I could do was submit to his rescue, which I did by believing. But as my dream continued, what happened after that? Apparently, she thought so highly of herself that she had forgotten the favour I bestowed on her. Could this be an illustration of the attitude some believers have over others, found in many churches of our day? Because all the churches of true believers are pictured as the Temple, the Body and the Bride of Jesus Christ, in effect any insult or misdemeanant shown towards a Christian brother or group of believers strikes at the heart of God himself.
Is it a crying, crying shame that I don't come across verbally as a very intelligent, cultured, or a well-educated, gentlemanly Christian? Has it always been this way since I started attending church in 1974? Furthermore, does it matter at all? Does it bring honour to God if I'm seen through the subconsciousness of other Christians as "somewhere down there" instead of "up here with us" in their way of thinking? But can things be different "behind the scenes"? May I show you just one example?
Lately I have been raving about the threefold pillar of salvation. Acquittal, Imputation, and Eternal Security. Did you in the past ask yourself whether you agree with this concept and if so, asked yourself where I got this idea from? Who was the enlightened preacher or guest speaker who expounded this concept? Or what is the title and who is the author of the book I have been reading about this?
Answer: Nobody at the pulpit or at the front of the church meeting has ever brought up such a concept. And furthermore, in the past forty years as a believer, I cannot remember reading any books directly expounding such an idea. The theory of a threefold gift of salvation given to every believer was a result of studying Scripture, especially in Paul's letter to the Romans. And although Paul himself might have been unaware, the Holy Spirit which inspired such Scriptures knew perfectly well that one day Rome will be the home of the Vatican, the headquarters of a worldwide Church which will teach a false gospel of infused righteousness, a faith-works salvation which can be easily lost by the believer on just one "mortal" sin. So the Holy Spirit, foreknowing all this, inspired Paul to write a thesis directed to Rome and its people. It was from these studies that I became aware of the threefold pillar of salvation. I now fervently believe that Paul's letter was divinely inspired to counter the present teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is a bit like Isaac Newton watching an apple fall from a tree. He then wrote a thesis about gravity. Newton didn't invent gravity - it was fully functional long, long before he was even born. What happened was that he discovered the reality of it. His theory was widely read because he was seen as a very clever man and therefore his views were authentic and respected. Maybe, coming from a working class background, my views can be easily disregarded. And sometimes I feel that they are.
|Look, No Tie! Isaac Newton|
So that was why I wrote about this topic on this week's blog. After reading of three separate incidents, all occurring within a week. One was about the culture of "No Brown in Town". That is, a very promising candidate was refused an offer of a banking career in the City because he was wearing brown shoes at the interview. Another promising candidate was told that his tie was "too loud". He didn't get the job either. Neither would the candidate wearing a shirt with a breast pocket would be hired. The second incident involved a group of Etonian students having flown to Russia to visit its President, Vladimir Putin. These students, dressed to the hilt in suit and tie, were all oozing the kind of self-confidence prospective British employers are looking for, according to one journalist. Not confidence in the assurance of God's love and mercy, but confidence in their own intelligence, education, and self-merit. The third issue was the rather idiosyncratic British custom of not dining before seven o'clock in the evening, according to the upper-middle classes. According to the Media, only the "lower classes" eat before seven - even if eating earlier was better for health reasons - to which the former would have taken offence.
It is those petty customs, cultural, and daft-sounding ideas which, to my belief, weakens the church of its divine testimony. Rather, by looking at each other under the Shadow of the Cross, which itself will destroy every barrier and prejudice among believers, would result in greater benefits for all.