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Go and tell that fox…

February 20, 2016

“Go and tell that fox”; that one phrase from Luke 13.32 has stuck in my mind. I hear those words and I’m transported back in time. I’m back in my late twenties. I’m on the farm of friends of my Mam. The week before we’d visited and admired their new venture – rearing guinea fowl to sell the eggs to the posh restaurants in the North East.

We’d come back, looking forward to seeing the little birds again. But there was chaos. A fox had got into the pen. They were being fed but they had needed a second bag. The pen had been half-latched for 5 minutes, no more, while they had gone to get more food, but the fox had been watching and waiting. The fox went straight in and killed. She managed to take one bird away but it looked as though the rest were dead. Then one lone bird was found, it had been hiding somewhere and had been missed. Somehow that one, sad little survivor made the attack all the more painful.

If you’ve never seen what a fox will do, then it’s easy to think of them as nothing more than the pretty urban invaders seen on Spring Watch on the tv. Foxes may be intelligent and their cubs are cute, but they are also vicious and merciless when it suits them. It is this image of a merciless, scheming thief that Jesus has in mind when he describes Herod as “that fox” (Luke 13.31-35). It is from this fox that Jesus would have protected the people of Jerusalem but they wouldn’t have it.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”’ (Luke 13.34-35 (CEV))

The people could have turned to him rather than Herod and they would have been spared the destruction of their city and its temple by the Romans in AD 70: Spiritual choices have real physical consequences.

If the people of Jerusalem had accepted Jesus, then they would have given “the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12.17 (CEV)) They would have paid their taxes and lived peacefully under the Romans. They would not have started a rebellion and they may not have been wiped out by the Emperor Titus. The Jerusalem temple could well still be standing but sadly they made other choices.

Equally, my choices now have profound practical consequences. The choices made by the people of this country today will have natural consequences. Just think how our country could be if we as a nation listened to Jesus and if we were to let him gather us “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”. What a radical change that could bring.

No matter how generous and loving we think we are, we are still mostly ruled by self-interest. Just think how a major charity event is big news, not the everyday event that it should be. Just think about elections, people talk about welfare but mostly they vote for the party they think will make them better off. In the debate about whether or not we stay in the EU both sides are shouting about how much better off we will be if we leave, or if we stay in. No one even bothers to mention what might be best for all. I would like to hear those arguments too, would Europe, would the world be a better place, even a little bit, if we left, or if we stayed in. I don’t honestly know, no one has taken the time to find out. Or if they have no one is bothered enough to mention what they found.

Then there is all the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” that the Spirit brings to those who truly follow Jesus (Galatians 5.22-23 ERV). If people accepted Jesus’ offer, I’m pretty sure we would still be far from perfect. But at least we would, as a society, as a nation, be agreed that we were working towards living those Kingdom values.

So I say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. I pray it for my town, and for my nation, that we together recognise Jesus and let him keep us safe from that Fox (Satan) who would come only to plunder and kill.

There’s that mention of ‘Fox’ again. This time with a capital letter. Again my mind wonders off. But this time to a far happier memory. I’m whisked back to the first time I heard the words of George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. I have since read far more about this very different Fox. George Fox is one of my heroes, a Spirit filled man who challenges and encourages me centuries after his death. So, to end a few words from the redeemed (George) Fox about what it means to turn to Jesus:

Mind the light of God in your consciences, which will show you all deceit;
dwelling in it, guides out of the many things into one spirit, which cannot lie, nor deceive.
Those who are guided by it, are one.
(George Fox, 1624-1691)

Finally, a video made by modern Quakers that I think is still one of the best, and most entertaining, introductions to George Fox, “What would George Fox say?“.

  1. Brilliant stuff.

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