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Health & Wellbeing

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Let the Meercat speak!

It’s called bureaucracy. And it’s universally hated.
I became caught in its tendrils while visiting India a few years ago. I’d made an error in my visa application and been granted a single-entry visa. But the motorcycle tour I was on required entry into India on two occasions, so the guard at the small rural border post didn’t stamp my passport as I re-entered the country – thus paving the way for the subsequent bureaucratic nightmare when I tried to obtain an exit visa. It appeared I would have to remain in India for some time after the group I was with had flown home, in order to work my way through the complex paperwork. The stuff of nightmares and financial disaster.
In the end, I just walked up to the airline counter at the airport, was issued a boarding pass and walked onto the aircraft with all the others. Phew! I didn’t relax until the plane was pushed back from the gate.
We invariably encounter situations in life that should be straightforward – but just aren’t.
On the internet this week I read of an older lady who applied to withdraw $10 from her bank account, handing her card to the teller. Not amused, the teller told her that for withdrawals less than $100, she must use the ATM. 
The old lady asked why. This irritated the cashier. Returning her card, she said: “That’s the rule. Please leave if you have no other business. Other people are waiting.”
The old lady thought for a moment before handing her card back to the cashier. “I’d like to withdraw all the money in my account” she said. The cashier checked the account balance and saw the old lady had $500,000 in her account. “The bank doesn’t have that much cash on hand” she said moodily. “Make an appointment and come back tomorrow!”
”How much can I withdraw now?” the old lady asked. The cashier told her she could have any amount up to $3,000. “Well, please let me have $3,000” her customer replied.
The cashier, now quite angry, spent the next five minutes counting out $3,000 in notes. Handing it over, she testily asked: “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” The old lady put $10 in her purse and said: “Yes. I’d like to deposit $2,990 into my account!”
Incidents like this illustrate the popular KISS principle: “Keep It Simple Stupid!” But we seldom learn, and many of us continue to make decisions and adopt attitudes that are unnecessarily complex and unhelpful.
The Church has not escaped the complexity trap either. The Gospel – literally, the Good News of Jesus Christ – is that God has made it simple for people to re-ignite their relationship with him by allowing Jesus to cover their failures and shortcomings through his sacrificial death on the cross. But over the years, we’ve weaved theological webs of intricacy over largely insignificant aspects of our response – imposing conditions that suit bureaucratic mindsets.
But the KISS principle that Jesus espoused is liberating – for he countered our penchant for complexity in one simple statement: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” And then he added just one more thing: “And love each other as you love yourself.”
And that’s it. Really! And to finish with a Meercatism: “Simples!