Church Matters August 2107

Some years before we moved to Cornwall a young man started attending the same church as us in West London. He came from St Austell and was in the habit of referring to Cornwall as “God’s Own County” – seeming to imply that it had some favoured status in God’s eyes. At the time we found this amusing and rather quaint. Looking around us now where we live in Rilla Mill – and comparing it to the landscape of suburban London we might be more inclined to agree with his sentiments – we certainly consider ourselves fortunate to be able to enjoy such surroundings all the time. But are we favoured? Is this some blessing from God?

It seems clear that to live in a part of the country which demonstrates an abundance of the good things in God’s creation shows that there are indeed blessings to be found here. However the statistics, showing lower than average income and the ratio of income to average house prices for the county, indicate that not everyone may feel so blessed. Cornwall has received significant funding from Europe as it is seen as a relatively poor region although the accuracy of the statistics on which this was based may be disputed. So is Cornwall favoured? Is it “God’s Own County”?It seems to me that to think that God could have favourites shows a serious misunderstanding of his character. What it reveals is that we have an inbuilt desire to be in some way special – and we would like to think that God would play his part. In William Paul Young’s book, “The Shack”, the father of a girl called Missy, abducted and presumed murdered by a serial killer, is told by God that he is “particularly fond of Missy”. The truth of this is borne out by God’s concern for the father and the missing girl – but what also becomes clear is the fact that God is “particularly fond” of every other character in the book – including the killer! The book does a very good job of assuring us of God’s love in even the worst of situations – but it also demonstrates that God does not have favourites nor does he show favouritism.

On a recent visit to our old church in London we were surprised, and pleased, to see our “young” friend from St Austell also back for a visit. He was there to tell the church about his imminent return to Peru where he is serving as a missionary – helping to plant churches in deprived areas. He will also soon be getting married to his Peruvian fiancée! I am sure that he has not lost his love for Cornwall, he had just spent several weeks with his family here, but I am also sure that he would now acknowledge that God is just as interested in Peru, or anywhere else for that matter.

It seems to me that we should be spending less time looking for God’s favour to us and more in seeking ways of showing God’s favour to all the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

Keith Browne