I was last at Skegness in the August of 1988, a guest of Billy Butlin and his army of Redcoats. I returned last week. I suspect it has changed little, though I had. Every fourth person seemed to ride a mobility scooter and its denizens have a penchant for transporting dogs in pushchairs, which surely defeats the object. Huge static caravan parks crammed with mobile homes occupy every piece of available ground away from the front, some so close together they resembled barrack blocks. It was very much like Blackpool, but lacking the tower, hen-parties and blatant celebrations of sexual ideology. In short, it was a working-class Mecca, a place to entertain the kids and give the Mrs a week off cooking. If Skegness brings out the worst in certain people, it did in me. I found myself nursing that most English of vices- snobbery.

The many overweight folk licking gigantic ice-creams or cramming chips into the nearest available orifice made me look healthy. The mobility scooter crew and their waddling entourages gave my gait all the airs and dignity of a ninth marquis. The fascination with trite entertainments made me look educated and worldly-wise, a Guardian-reading member of the intelligentsia. For someone raised in a council house by a single parent, these observations are rich indeed! Only a few weeks ago, I found myself walking the grand avenues of Mayfair and Belgravia. Middle-aged men in pink chinos climbed into Porsches and wonderfully slim women in designer frocks with shoulder-length, blonde hair walked tiny dogs around Green Park. There, I felt only qualified to be a shoe-shine boy or a chimney sweep's apprentice. I was a nobody, a mere pleb, someone who had achieved nothing in life.

Comparing ourselves to others will always make us feel better (for looking down on them) or worse (for looking up to them). This results in our despising others or despising ourselves, neither of which is helpful. Hebrews 12, having completed its wonderful catalogue of faithful witnesses in chapter 11, then urges that, despite being

‘…surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… (emphasis mine).

In other words, we may have excellent role models (or terrible warnings to heed), but it is to Jesus Himself to whom we should be looking. Turn your eyes upon Him, seek His face, desire His will. Although beholding the Lord Jesus’ perfection and beauty will only ever make us see our own imperfection and ugliness, the more that we seek Him, the more like Him we become. Moses’ face shone for having spent time in His company. Do not seek to be like your pastor, your youth leader, your mentor, your parent, but seek to be more like Him. This prevents both snobbery and self-loathing, while helping us grow in His image.

Adam's Likeness, LORD, efface,

Stamp thy Image in its Place,

Second Adam from above,

Reinstate us in thy Love.

Let us Thee, tho' lost, regain,

Thee, the Life, the Inner Man:

O! to All Thyself impart,

Form'd in each Believing Heart.

-Charles Wesley

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17