There are times I look at what comes out of small children’s bible classes and wonder if we have lost the plot. Sticky bits of paper, little crowns to wear, stick figures drawn, simplistic and black and white. God is this. We are that. God is good. Long live God!
And then we get into the complicated stuff. The wars, the genocide, the cleansing … the “old Testament” and the God who is “not good”. And the questions begin. The ones no one wants to ask (or answer). And those who ask (all too often) are given “proof verses” or “inspiration verses” or told that when they become “mature Christians” all will become clear – or simply that “this is the mystery of our faith – we may never know (in this lifetime).”
And so often we never even realise that we – like Peter Pan – are stuck in this perpetual church kindergarten (for ever and ever, amen).
“Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 13:36-43
Good seeds. Bad seeds. Good people. Bad people. Devil. Angels. End of age. God. Weeds. Bad people. Burned. God. Beautiful plants. Beautiful people. Saved. Happy people good. Bad people gone. We are good! God is good! Long live God! Long live us!
The Law was all they knew from birth. All the commandments and the law and the temple and the sacrifices and atonement for sins. Always sins. Always atoning. Never clean. Always waiting. For the Big One. Always waiting. For The Kingdom here on earth! And how does Jesus break through all that history, that culture, that “religion”? With “sticky paper” and simplicity.
We are no different to them – why do we think we are? They no different to us – why do we think they are.
Well, maybe because of this …
I see the disciples journeying. Physically and spiritually. Storms. Thousands to feed. Demons to hoik out. Being watched. Being reported on. Forgetting the daily bread. Being told off. Again and again! Whereas I see us preferring our nice safe kindergarten where we can be fed picture stories. The simplistic and black and white. No thought required – no journey required. A nice little club we join and stay with (for ever and ever, amen).
I often wonder what it is we get from “church”. I wonder “why church” (as we seem to want it) …
Polished. Clean. Dusted and sanitised. A building we go to – where we “sacrifice” an hour of our week to atone for our sins – to never be clean – never – always having to come back and atone again – to sacrifice again and again. To sit together and draw stick-men (and women – obviously). To play with sticky paper. To watch the multi-media show. To enjoy the performance. To offer a short critique on the way out: “Loved the hymns today. Not sure the sermon was up to scratch today. The sound levels were too high for me today. Thought you all looked wonderful! Sorry, can’t stop. See you next week. Busy busy busy! Back to the real world!”
My point is this: what “would” we ask Jesus today is the wrong question. What “would” we want is the wrong question. That makes it classroom. That makes it kindergarten. That makes it safe. That makes it static. That makes it intellectual. That leaves us unchanged. That leaves us in exactly the same spot as before. And that is not “journeying”.
The right question?
What “do/did/will/will not/have/have not” I ask … what “do/did/will/will not/have/have not” I want … of my Living Jesus. Right now. Right here. 365/24/7 (and all that).
6 thoughts on “What would you ask Jesus?”
Years ago (over a hundred) pastors preached hellfire and brimstone, how everyone would be damned if they did not …
These days everything is peace, love, and joy. Everyone is accepted, no one will be turned away. In some churches I even hear that once saved you can never become unsaved, regardless what you do in life.
Somewhere between these two lies the truth, but, as you say, we are stuck with coloring books and perpetual kindergarten. I wonder if we will ever be ready, pastors included, to approach things as teens, much less adults.
“Somewhere between these two lies the truth”
Dear TMT, thank you. I wonder if we have for too long cultivated seeds that have been taught to walk in faith by sight. Much like sailors of yesteryear sailed in sight of land for fear of falling off the edge. Faith by sight, for me, is an enigma. Evidence based faith. What is possible faith. Health and Safety and risk assessment faith. But the wonderful thing?
Each one of us is capable of being a “virus of faith” in faith and not by sight. Eleven apostles indwelt by a Living Lord – a virus of hope! And each one of us the same if we believe.
“I wonder if we will ever be ready” – I wonder if we already are and don’t even realise it.
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Faith, by definition, is belief in something which cannot be proved. If you can prove it, then it is fact. Probably why scientists have a hard time with belief in an unseeable, untouchable God.
I used to think the same. Now I am seeing more often that the “deemed possible” is our walking in faith – whereas the “deemed impossible” is not of God – and, therefore, not of faith.
I never hear it verbalised like that – I just see it more and more in fellowship/discernment/decision making.
And I find it an odd distinction – even more so because there is never any recognition or awareness that it is a distinction.
YES! I used to be in vocational ministry. I “escaped” and told myself, my spouse, and my Master that I would never go back. But in a sense I’ve been in the wilderness just doing the “job”. But over the last few years I’ve been stepping closer and closer to “going back in”. You hit the exact point of why I don’t want to return, and why I’m feeling more and more compelled to return.
Right now I’m trying to walk one of our church leaders through the process of restoring relationships with another leader in our congregation. I’m also trying to help another leader not be so condemning expecting people to know what they’ve never been taught and led through. I’m not even employed, and I already feel caught in the middle. What am I thinking, when I consider going back into total dependence upon such things for my living? I’m terrified.
It’s somewhat like resigning myself to my particular date of execution. And in a very real sense, it is exactly that. I am dying to myself, and becoming more available to obeying my Master. I very much would like to go back to nap time in my “kindergarten”, but I find I don’t really understand that any more. I can hide, but I’m not really happy there. I think it’s time I wake up, wipe the sleep from my eyes, put my shoes on and get back to work. Nap time over.
But you describe so well what I’m headed into…Maybe I should wear a helmet this time…
Dear Matt! What a lovely addition, thank you.
We so often seem to gear ourselves towards mediocrity, not rocking the boat (we prefer to stay within), smiling our way to the next compromise, the next falling out, the next meeting, the next set of minutes.
Inertia. Impoverished and starving of spirit. And blissfully unaware. And yet …
You also know the energy when that spirit finds its hunger. When the spirit in a few is rekindled and lit again. One by one. One at a time. Imagining the “mission field” we see “over there” and never “right here”. Imagining that “right here” mission field lighting up and becoming a blazing inferno! Not of religion. Not of service. But of love and connection. When “follow me” becomes the reality. When it becomes the only thing we hold as important.
“I very much would like to go back to nap time in my “kindergarten”, but I find I don’t really understand that any more.”
Me neither. And I don’t have the answers either. I just see the disciples “journeying” always. And so many around today that don’t. My problem with seeds and all that “horticultural imagery” – those mustard seeds and stuff are great picture books – it’s just that they don’t grow into trees overnight!
“Maybe I should wear a helmet this time…” I relate!! 🙂
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