The New Year’s Honours List for 2020 has just been announced. A fine list of people, with many deserving men and women, enjoying their moment of recognition in society. Beneficiaries of a system that harks back to the grand old days of the British Empire and its dubious times of colonialism. But to many people the system will seem unfair, and they may be right, but regardless of that I am always heartened by how ordinary people automatically help each other, as a natural act of kindness or charity. They perform unsung acts of benevolence that deserve recognition just as much as those who are recorded in the Honours List. Acts of kindness dispensed spontaneously, and without a thought that perhaps some form of acknowledgement will come one day. In this life we have many opportunities to look out for each other, our neighbours, friends, family. Even total strangers. Helping one another is so important that Jesus told a story about it, about a Samaritan man. Jesus’ story was in response to a question, “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:25-37). The Samaritan man helped a total stranger who was injured; it involved a cost – money and time. But never a mention of reluctance.
In the community of faith of which I am privileged to be a part I am always blessed by the different ways our folks try and outdo each other in helpful ways. Even those battling with illness or infirmities. The Craft Group of ladies on a Monday do much to help each other with their projects, their needs, their challenges. Our Soup Kitchen on a Friday welcomes in those who are lonely and in need, providing a basic meal and friendly ear to the less fortunate in the Alloa community. And visitors join us on a Sunday, most to hear the Word of God preached, but one or two just come in for a coffee and biscuit, or turn up when we have a meal after our family service. And there are other charitable acts that take place behind the scenes.
Amazing things can happen when an act of kindness or charity is performed in Jesus’ name. There was a young man with a packed lunch that he offered to Jesus, and then watched 5000 people being fed from it (John 6:1-14). I wonder what he told his mum when he got home! And did she believe him? But it can be the same with us. The little we have will be multiplied many times when offered to God.
But returning to the Honours List, the temporal recognition of those men and women will die with them. At the pearly gates, Saint Peter will sadly have to inform them that an MBE or knighthood is not an “honour” recognised in the Kingdom of God – there is only one thing that gains us entry. So how do we get our names onto God’s Honours List? The amazing thing is that it is not based on works or good deeds, unlike the worldly system. In fact, no amount of effort expended in acts of benevolence or charity will ever get us into God’s presence. To get listed in God’s Honours List (the Lamb’s Book of Life) is simple, and amazingly we don’t have to be nominated – all that is required is for us to respond as a sinner to the Gospel message. So I now have my name listed on God’s Honours List. And I don’t have “MBE” written after my name, I have “MKG” (Member of the Kingdom of God) or “SLG” (Son of the Living God), and rather than being a “Sir” I am a “priest” (1 Peter 2:5) and not just any old priest, but a “royal priest” (1 Peter 2:9). And I’m a “saint” – there are many Biblical references to this. We mustn’t forget that values in the Kingdom of God are very different to those in the kingdom of the world. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27). So, fellow foolish and weak Christians, let’s look out for ways we can help each other, and opportunities to invite the wise and strong to put their names on the only “Honours List” that matters.