Betty Cuthbert died this week. She was considered to be Australia’s original golden girl, and won 4 gold medals and broke 16 world records. You may have seen media articles about her. What you may not have seen was her Christian faith.
The Herald ran an obituary entitled “Shy Golden Girl ran for her faith”. It spoke of her faith in God and of what it meant to be born again. (Actually it spoke of her faith in god ) The eulogy wrote that God encouraged her to run again, and when she did, she won. She said,“It was my secret. I was embarrassed at the time. Now I try to save as many people for Him as possible.”
In today’s sermon we hear that Jesus judges the secrets of people’s hearts. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. For the times when we have done unrecognised things in honour of God, it is a good thing. For the times when our thoughts have betrayed us, this is, of course, a bad thing. Yet the truth is that whoever we are and whatever we have done, Christ can save us from the rightful judgment of our Creator.
The conference I went to the other week talked about the ladder of abstraction. You may have never heard of it, I hadn’t. What it means is that when we talk about God we are more and more likely to make Him less and less specific ie to make him abstract. We talk of to a living God or a Creator Sprit or the God of all. This makes him more acceptable to the many. But should we? Do we? Let’s be honest, it wasn’t the Living God who saved Betty Cuthbert. It wasn’t god who will raise her to life. It was the God who sent his Son to die for her on the Cross, it was the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This quite pulled me up and I wondered if it was true of me. When I look at Prayer Book prayers they are much more defined, much more specific, much more God centred. I was interested to see how far I had slipped.
Final day judgement is the clear bell you hear ringing in the passage for today. The only person who can save us is Jesus. God is not abstract. He is not undefined. He has clearly and ultimately revealed himself to us in his Son. The good news is that Jesus Christ died for us, died that we might have access to his Father.
One media obituary asked Betty Cuthbert where she was going when she died. She said, “I am happier now than I have ever been. I know where I’ve come from, and I know where I’m going to-heaven” In a world where less and less know the Lord God let us not water him down or abstract him but bear witness (like Betty) to the only one who can save people from their sins.