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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

20 August 2014: Brian Blogg, Petersfield United Reformed Church

Safe, Tender, Extreme

Several years ago Adrian Plass wrote a book entitled "Jesus, safe, tender, extreme". This is not a review for, despite enjoying his writings, I haven't read it. Its title did, however, cause me to think was he, Jesus that is, safe, tender and extreme?

Safe? Certainly, how can he not be! He is not only the one by whom the worlds were created but he is also the one who gave his life on a cruel cross because he so much wanted to have a relationship with me both now and throughout eternity. He paid the penalty for my sin and gave me his righteousness instead.

Tender? Without the shadow of doubt! It was he who could forgive a woman of dubious virtue without compromising his own holiness. He it was who restored the apostle Peter when the latter had shamefully denied ever knowing him when Jesus was on trial for his life and it is he who continues to rejoice my heart after 60 years during which I have frequently disappointed him.

Extreme? Oh yes, because in exchange for all the above God calls for the Christian's absolute surrender. For Peter this meant a life serving him and, according to tradition, death by crucifixion - upside down. For Paul, shipwreck, beatings, imprisonment and probably death at the hands of the Romans; perhaps being beheaded! For us it may be little more than the challenge to speak up for him in a situation where we might prefer to remain silent or a course of action that threatens ambitions. In 1956 for a young American named Jim Elliot it meant martyrdom in Ecuador but as he had said "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Post on 20 August; it was published in the Post on 27th August..

Don't forget the PACT Service in the Square on Bank Holiday Sunday: 24 August: see photographs of the 2013 Service

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