Do you remember the Monty Python sketch about the parrot that began with the words; “Hello, I wish to register a complaint,” or the dissatisfied guests queuing up to complain about all manner of things in Fawlty Towers? In both of these television comedies the complaints were justified as the parrot was dead, and Basil Fawlty’s hotel was as described – faulty!
Complaining is something human beings are very good at, particularly when it comes to church. But when we make our complaints to other human beings all we achieve is to lay the foundations for a bad atmosphere. Would we be so vocal if we were only allowed to complain directly to God? Actually we can. Not in person, but we can pick up the phone to God anytime. It is called prayer. But I don’t recall the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples containing any complaints.
I could have made a few complaints about my house this Christmas when every spare inch of space was filled with family, their kit, food, drink, Christmas presents, etc.; and getting a vehicle in and out of the drive meant an exercise in skilful manoeuvring! With the wonderful science of hindsight my Christmas should have been devoid of complaints and full of rejoicing and gratitude. The house might have felt small but I have a house. It was full of the family that God has blessed me with; we had plenty to eat and drink, and we had many gifts to give one another in addition to our time and our love.
During the Christmas morning service our minister told us about his Uncle Robert, who served as an army officer in World War Two. While deployed to work with local soldiers on special operations in the Balkans, Robert found being a major to be a hindrance. Put simply, the locals did not want to work under a British officer. So he resigned his commission and became one of them. As a former Merchant Navy officer I have some understanding of what that would have meant. Living with the crew and giving up all the benefits of life a few decks higher up would have been unthinkable for me. Working with the crew – fine. Living with the crew and like the crew – absolutely not.
But that is what happened when God sent Jesus to live on Earth. Jesus resigned His commission and came to live with the crew. I don’t read in Scripture that Jesus ever complained about His lot. Can you imagine the conversation?
“How’s it going down there, Son?”
“You really want to know, Father? Actually, it stinks in every conceivable way. The accommodation is rubbish, the food is terrible, the smell is awful, and most of the people … remind me again, why I am doing this?”
Thank God Jesus never complained. Thank God that He saw something in us that He considered worth saving. Thank God. I’m satisfied. Are you?
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT)
And two other versions of the same song because we all have different tastes.