Love without the small print

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I have a weekly commute to London.  It keeps me in touch with the general populace in this part of the world.  A populace drawn into their own personal smartphone screen.

Music.  Emails.  Instant Messaging.  Interminable Indulgent Instagram.  Social Media.  Less and less (thankfully) those intrusive “Can you hear me?” phone-calls on (what used to be called) mobile telephones.  Voice calls much less popular now keyboard and lens replaces the need for actually speaking.

And the biggest draw of these wonderful gadgets … ?

We can all look down.  We can avoid the need to pretend we are alone.  Avoid the discomfort of not making eye contact.  Avoid all the embarrassment of not having to speak to someone face-to-face (or kneecap-to-kneecap).

I remember my younger sister commuting regularly in London years ago (before smartphones). She reported how wonderful it was to see so many people praying for such extended periods. She couldn’t comprehend that closing one’s eyes when commuting in cramped spaces was simply the accepted way of avoiding eye-contact. I still chuckle remembering her face when she found out that praying wasn’t such a common occurrence in The City after all!

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My Godmother’s husband was a chatterer.  An embarrassment.
In any situation he would strike up a conversation.  Loudly.  What we (used to) think of as “The American Way”.
That genetic malady which ignores everyone else’s comfort zones … which rides roughshod over others’ expected-and-defended “personal space”.
But the odd thing was that the majority of those who suffered this intrusion seemed to enjoy the experience.
We just cringed in the background.  With a little envy.

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And as I look out and see the headlines … the (current) forensic analysis of the (another) horrific terrorist attack on London Bridgethe repeated claim of (all) government who have “allocated £xxm in additional funding” (to fix every problem raised) the noise of right and wrong (as we reduce our planet to one giant overflowing rubbish bin)the permanent public arena of “gladiatorial protagonists” spewed out for our entertainment in news and “social meeja”the increasing and inextricable “looking down” and away from so much that unites us

I wonder what other species is quite so self-absorbed.

I wonder how we have detached ourselves from who we really are.  How we made “religion” just another science.  How we made science just another “god”.  How we manage to convince ourselves that “being connected” (to this wonderful self-healing-home) is no longer relevant to us.

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Us the alpha species … the species no longer a “species” … a “species” now having outgrown itself.   Now entitled … now complacent … now detached from the very connection that gave birth to each of us … on this planet that nurtures us … that heals us simply by the sound of a breeze – the sight of all those stars – the smell of freshly cut grass – the taste of cold icy water.   These simple things that connect us – heal our restlessness – our searching – our very souls.

I wonder what other species despises its own kind so much that it chooses to look down … chooses to detach … chooses to “talk” to someone on the other side of the world (in preference to someone sitting right next to me).

Is it fear – and if so of what?  And if it isn’t fear then … what?  Arrogance?  Entitlement?  Ignorance?  That “you aren’t interesting enough” … ?

What is it that means we each choose to look down more and more?

Even church.

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That (default) looking down when “talking” to the being who is loved and loves.  The default (of “worship”) that is now the default for (“talking” to) everybody.  The default “nice smile” that is the default for everyone in every (unexciting) conversation.

I think church has a very important role to play in the world today. 

A role to encourage “looking up” as THE default.  Making eye-contact as THE default.  Finding excitement in the ordinary (that is each of us) as THE default.  Drawing ALL together as THE ONLY default. 

(because the preaching of correctness … of sin … of division salvation … of judgment salvation …. is the default of looking down)

And “the default” of looking up can only start by looking God in the eye.   By not bitching about sin all the time.  By making Love the beginning AND middle AND end of ALL conversations.  Real love.  Unconditional love.  Inclusive love.

Love without the small print of religion and correct (rule littered) teaching”.

We need to teach THE default of looking up.

Because if the church really is “the people” …

We are ALL “the people”!

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We are already connected

Fellowship groups … bible study groups … house groups … Sunday school … groups with one thing at their core: a desire to grow.  To grow … to change … and to journey with others.  Others who will be as vulnerable and as strong as each.  Others who will allow.  Others who will hear.  Others who want to journey.

I have such a group.

I have found myself verbalising with clarity thoughts that were only a confusion before.  I have listened to words I have never heard in church or church groups.  But more than that – I know that when I speak I am being heard by more than just those I see.  For they are hearing their inner voices as they hear my words.  “Inner voices” are part of the conversation.   And as I hear my own inner voice – so their inner voices will resonate with mine – just as mine will with theirs when they speak.

If you have never experienced it, you need a group that has.  Once experienced, it is hard to live without.  Once experienced something changes for ever.

And THAT is why these “groups” (at least for me).  That, for me, is the difference between socialising, fellowship, and discipling.  Discipling (for me) is when “ego isn’t” because “inner voices are”.   A connection of God … love … inner voice … GSHJ … whatever your name and relationship for your inner voice … it is real.

Our group lives in different continents. Physically we have never met.  But my – your – “inner voice” is not bound by geography.  Spiritual connection is not geographic.  We use Skype, a screen, a camera, a microphone, and a headset or speakers (group skype works on computers or laptops – smart phones and tablets, no)

Why this post?

I keep meeting those who struggle, as I do, with “organised religion”.  Those who seek to hear the inner voices of others.  Who seek to connect.  For in that place is power. That place is the power of love.  That is the place of love.  That is the place of change.  And that, for me, is discipling: not change as I imagine or expect change – but change as I cannot imagine and never expect.

And I want to invite you to experience that for yourself.

And you are already connected – you are reading these words and we are reading yours.  And you already have a screen (and you may already have a microphone, camera, headset/speakers, as well as skype).  If you haven’t – skype is free – and the rest is not expensive – ask any teenager.  🙂

But “the kit” is functional.  The kit is “stuff” – the kit is not it.  Connecting with “inner voices” is it – and you already have yours!

So all you need to do is listen to your own inner voice.  Because yours is no different to mine.  Mine seeks connection.  Mine seeks “disciples”.  And yours seeks the same.  I know because I have heard inner voices in others connect with the inner voice in me (and if you don’t know what I mean – ask.  Please – please – ask).

If you have already such a group: spread the word.
If you want a group like this – say so wherever and however you feel guided (and then “listen” because your inner voice will speak).
And if you are scared of “cameras” and being on screen – so are a lot of others (you are not alone).
And if the thought of this makes you nervous – well done.

Connecting has risks – so be picky – be a disciple.  It is a walk of faith.  It is journeying in a place not of geography and not of physical spaces.  It is connecting without distance.

Or why not reblog this post and just tell others you want a group like this.  Or ask others to reblog your reblog and to also say they want this.  Why not all of us get “disorganised discipling” through just connecting with others who want the same.

And the very best bit of all … ?

We are ALL already connected (if we allow).

Feel free to chat – to disagree – to ask – to tell … that is what disciples do!  🙂 

Thank you.

Paul

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