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).