My dad played rugby union into his 40s, loved the game and had the injuries to prove it. He would boast that pain didn’t keep him from the field of play, a testimony that ensured as his son I had to absorb a lot of physical pain before he believed I needed any attention. I also played rugby, in an attempt to please him. Yet, although fleet of foot, I was short and found it difficult to run through tacklers. Hence, I never made the school first team. Switching to football following a series of fractures, I enjoyed a lot of success, yet it was not a boast my dad could celebrate; his sport was always rugby.
Within each of us there is this need to take pride in some achievement or skill. It almost becomes one means of self-definition and a means of introducing ourselves to others. Sitting in the pub or out with mates, the conversation contains many stories of individuals’ prowess, sometimes at the expense of others’ apparent faults or weaknesses.
We all laugh along and thereby affirm the storyteller. In reality, all such stories betray a measure of personal insecurity, and recently I was surprised to hear an accomplished person describe just how well received, unique and constructive their contribution had proved. Further affirmation flowed, providing all the shoring up of the ego.
Paul tells us to boast in nothing except for Jesus. I was at Eucharist the other day and literally saw the light of God streaming down upon the altar. God was self-evidently present and there was a joy and fullness that accompanied this vision. For all my self-promotion, in all my outstanding successes, I need to remind myself that without God I am nothing. I don’t want to accept that definition, yet it’s true, and I will do well to remember to boast in Christ alone, and tell the stories of my God encounters when in conversation with friends in the pub or out on a gig.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings