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Beware of Rose Rage - Edwin Counsell

Yes, ‘ROSE’ Rage! It may be one of the unexpected and unwanted outcomes of lockdown as many people spend time in their gardens, tending the plants with extra special care. Rose Rage is sparked off when we glance over the garden fence at next door’s beautifully manicured lawn, and then realise that launch into a jealous rage, as we compare it to our own patch of yellowing grass, bristling with thistles and buttercups.

We’re all conscious of the people around us, and we tend to notice if the people next door have painted their house or changed the car; not that it’s any of our business, of course, but you know what neighbours are like!

A man named John Taylor once said that ‘God made us a little lower than the angels, and our greatest ambition is to be a little higher than the Joneses!’ Now, with the greatest respect to those of you called ‘Jones’, God has given us the wonderful gift of life and a world that bears the mark of his handiwork, yet we’re constantly caught up in the trivia of our everyday lives, and where we stand financially or socially in comparison to the people we see around us. We can even become obsessed by the state of next door’s garden!

The Christian faith is summarised in two straightforward commands – to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves. That was the response of Jesus himself when he was asked to sum up the greatest commandments of God. Of course, a command to love our neighbour doesn’t give us carte blanche to go round to next door, ring the bell and stand there expectantly with our lips puckered… because we might well be disappointed, especially with the 2 metre rule of social distancing still in force! Yet this is about more than doing a few good deeds, and we won’t find ourselves closer to God than the next person, just because we gave ‘next door’ a hand to put out the recycling.

The command of love demands that we put things like jealousy, quick judgement and preconceived ideas and opinions to one side, and recognise the dignity and worth of every individual in God’s world, regardless of their material possessions, their colour, nationality or their character. To live in this way is to live in the image of God and to understand that God’s command of love, is to know that in our ordinary and often mundane lives, we are all beloved in the sight of God; the same God who gives us every good gift and loves us, with no strings attached.

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