Streets Of Great Harwood

I’m having a pleasant time, here in Great Harwood. The sun is shining, and the good folk of Great Harwood Christian Fellowship have set up a literature table near the library, as they do on most Thursday mornings. It’s stocked with tracts, booklets and bibles, and it’s surprising how many people of various colours and creeds and kinds are happy to stop and spend some time in conversation.

I’m standing several yards away, in front of the Leisure Centre, handing out tracts and encouraging their recipients to make their way over to the table to talk.

Here comes an elderly lady. I offer her an invitation to the Fellowship and a Living Waters tract. I slip a Salem Chapel leaflet in between them - well, it can’t do any harm, can it? She takes them with a gracious smile and a word of thanks. She walks on for a few yards, and then she turns back to me.

"The answer to the question is yes!" She smiles again, ever so sweetly.

I’m lost for a moment, and then I remember the cover of the tract she’s taken. You can see it on the left in the picture above. "Are You Good Enough To Go To Heaven?" That, indeed, is the question.

I smile back at her. "So, why do you think you’re good enough to get to go to heaven?"

"Because I am a very kind and considerate person."

She positively radiates self-satisfaction, as she turns to go on her way. I’ve got to be quick, so I fall back on a formula. "But the bible says that ‘good people’ don’t go to heaven: only the forgiven find a home there."

She shakes her head, still smiling. "It doesn’t say that at all!"

"Have you ever read the bible?"

"Why, I was reading it just the other day," she says, still smiling, but with just a trace of asperity in her voice.

"Well, where in the bible does it say that good people go to heaven?"

She’s in no mood to argue, and the smile is almost gone, but then it reasserts itself. She will have the last word, even if it’s over her shoulder as she hurries away.

"It is a very old bible!"

It’s a bit of a baffler. 

Later on, at home, I turn to Luke 18, 9-14, in the KJV; and then I read it again in the ESV. The publican becomes a tax collector, and he beats his breast instead of smiting upon it… nevertheless, our Lord seems to come to very much the same conclusion in both versions.

See for yourself. First the KJV...

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

And then the ESV…

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

However, that elderly lady walked on with the tract still held in her hand. I’m praying that she will read it before she consigns it to the recycling; and then, who knows - she might take up her very old bible once more, and see what it has to say in an entirely new light.