For those who don’t know it, Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegorical story of the life of a Christian, written by Bunyan over 300 years ago, while he was in prison for “preaching without a licence”. Fortunately, licences are not required today – at least, not in the UK.
We did the first two parts (of seven) this morning. The lead character is told by a guy called Evangelist to escape from the City of Destruction, where he lives, and find safety in the Beautiful City far away, home of the Great King. But, before he can make the journey, he has to get rid of a great weight on his back. Evangelist sends him off towards the Cross, where that will happen.
On the way, he gets distracted by Mr Worldly-Wiseman, who tells him that the way to get rid of his weight is to climb Sinai Hill, to the towns of Law-Live and Do-Right. But he can’t make it up – the hill is too steep. Fortunately, Evangelist comes along and re-points him along the right way.
It’s sad that the lessons of 300 years ago still need to be learnt today. Humans really are an obstinate and stiff-necked lot. Many people still think that trying to go up Sinai Hill, and obeying all the rules, is the way to get right with God. But no-one can ever do that. The Cross is the only place where forgiveness of sins can be found.
I suspect the reason people like to think that obeying the rules will do, is that they want to feel they can achieve a relationship with God by their own efforts. After all, “I’m not a bad person. I’ve never murdered anyone. God will have to accept me.” I used to think that way. How arrogant I was…