The kingdom of heaven if like a mustard seed … like a vineyard … the Kingdom of Heaven is like …
Images and imagery. And we take one colour from a palette of colours, one frame from a reel of frames, one phrase from a story of phrases, one word from the words of one verse. All of which is okay.
Love is like that. Love is subjective. Love is selective. Love is intuitive. Love is greater than death – and what can be less “objective” than something being greater than death?
Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ John 14:1-6
Many dwelling places – a place for you – I go to prepare – will come again – take you – where I am – you may be also.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
My dad loved the “resort hotel” image. He quoted those verse fragments often. He had an affection for that imagery. It became something real for him. It encapsulated his version of his God. It never had the same meaning for me. A hotel resort seemed too “service provider and guest” for me. But say those verses to me and it is my dad – and God – who spring to mind.
But get me started on “No one comes to the Father except through me” and I can paint pictures for hours (and hours!). That phrase encapsulates so much of my own relationship with my version of my God. And yet to someone else their experiences would get in the way of my imagery. Say that phrase and so much of my own relationship with GSHJ springs to mind
And then “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” – now there is an image we can all share around any campfire in the still hours of evening. The images crackling from those few words just as the burning logs crackle sensuously.
Six verses. Probably not a transcript of what Jesus said. An amalgam, a distillation, an essence – a “signature”.
Imagine if we debated the bible in those terms: does this passage have the signature of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we see God’s signature in these words? Just like the brush strokes in the paintings of the Masters. Just like the tone and intonation – the sound – of a particular singer. Just like the timbre and pacing – the voice – of a well-known character.
The signature of God. The fragrance of God. The essence of God. The voice of God.
How many conversations do you have in just one day?
I have telephone conversations with customers, employees, colleagues. And in between I have text messages and conversations with family, friends, and those who visit the house (I work from home). Imagine if all of those were recorded and debated and pored over. Imagine if all of those were recorded – would they be a real transcript or the transcript of a dodgy memory? And imagine even attempting to record every word spoken to every person encountered. It would be too much!
But now ask someone to record the essence of my words – “the signature” of Paul in those words.
“That’s not Paul, Paul doesn’t speak like that!” … or … “That’s pure “Paul” – that’s how he talks!” … And much routine stuff might be “That could be anybody.”
So why do we spend so little time seeing the signature of God Soft Hands Jesus in the bible? Why do we so often “use the bible” as a script, a transcript, a precise record of what He said to whom?
Six verses this morning and three “signatures” jumped out at me: my God – my dad – and me.
Because when we look for a signature, we are looking for someone. We are looking for the person we know. We are looking for the person we love. We are looking for love.
So just why do we spend so much time looking for “sin”? Looking at darkness, looking at death – a search for “disconnection” from the God we Love. I used to do that – it’s how I was taught. Cast out sin, do not let sin in, keep sin out, be watchful, be alert, sin is everywhere, it will get you … on and on and on! Always looking at darkness, always looking at death, and always disconnected from the God I yearned to Love and know better. And couldn’t. Because I was always looking for sin.
And now … ?
I look for love. Because when I look for love, I am looking at Light and Life. And I have found there to be one MASSIVE BONUS!! When I am not looking for sin … I never find it! Imagine that!! Imagine never finding sin in others, never finding it in yourself – not the disabling , disconnecting darkness of death “sin” … Isn’t that what we all hope for when we talk about “heaven”?
And the other MASSIVE BONUS … ?
I find – and see – loads of love everywhere and in everyone. In the oddest of places and oddest of people at the oddest of times. And every time that connects. Every time that breathes life into both of us. Every time that transcends the ordinary. Every time that uplifts!
So I have a question …
What are you looking for today – and why?