The bible says a lot of things. A lot of it I don’t get. I have never got.
Which is bit like loving someone but not knowing them at all. And at some point – always at some point – the nurtured “image” will crack and poison will ooze. That kind of let-down hurts – is not pretty – is usually a relationship breaker.
So just what has that got to do with God and the bible?
Well … how many “Christians” do you know who have been hurt by “God”? How many folk do you know who blame God for letting bad things happen? Who blame God for anything that is not “good and loving” (and usually – but not always – “unconditional love”) for them?
I know loads. I was one of them. I am a Christian who blamed God whilst at the same time excusing God. I am someone who created my own God – my creation not His. And to do that I had to excuse God time and time again – I had to sweep all the messy bits under the carpet. And I knew they were/are there – but I would never admit that (not out loud anyway).
Because the real God is not someone I could love. Not the God in the bible (and the God in the bible is unlikely to love me either – not really). But I am a Christian. I was brought up in a church-going, God-fearing, God-loving family. I read the bible. I sat in church. I sang in the choir. I was confirmed.
And I never knew God at all.
I knew the God everyone told me about. The sanitised God. The neat and tidy God. The God the vicar talked of. The God in the bible reading notes. The God in the prayers we learned, the hymns we sang, the God in the church socials, the God everyone agreed on – the neat and tidy God – the sanitised God – the God who, unless you believe in Him, will fry you in Hell for ever God!
And I was a Good Child – so I believed what I was told – I accepted what I was told. I worked at being good. I worked at being forgiven. I worked at fitting in. All of which involved not being me at all. All of which involved a lot of public pretending. Pretending at being a Good Christian. Doing my Mum and Dad proud. Doing what was expected. And because rejecting God comes at a cost. Rejecting God means rejecting people who believe in God. The people who believed in me. Because when I rejected God I let people down. But I have to say this –
It is really liberating!
Did you know that un-believers are as honest and dishonest … as full of bull and truth … as loving and as hateful … as hardworking and as lazy … as false and as sincere as any “believer”? Mostly the difference is that us believers dress up on a Sunday, smile our “face smile” a lot, and would never tell you to your face that you are talking bollocks (although we will behind your back). And we all feel guilty about so much – and for so much of the time – without it fixing anything at all! But – apart from that – I couldn’t tell you who was a believer and who was not a believer.
And did you know that un-believers can (and do) kick the shit out of the bible and God and not feel ANY guilt at all! Did you know that un-believers can live how they want – find their own way – their own morals – their own ethics. And – yes – that will be somewhere where they also have to fit in. That will also be with those who see things the same as them. And there will the same codes and “language” to learn. And there will be consequences for not fitting-in, for not learning the right language, for not being “one of us” (or should that be “one of them”?).
Like I said – can you really tell the difference? (I won’t tell if you don’t)
And that is what hurts me more and more now.
I walked away from all of “that” decades ago. Because “that” doesn’t give God a good name. That isn’t love. That isn’t worship. That is like having an affair. That IS cheating on those I love and God (not to mention my own morals and ethics)! And “that” is just plain WRONG!
And now – because He and I found each other again – the “old answers” are no answers at all. The “Good Christian” stuff is no longer enough. The God in the bible IS messy – he IS inconsistent! And I want to know why – I want know the real God – and I am not waiting any longer. I am not being put off any more – and I will certainly not wait until I die. Because that means pretending – again – just in a more grown-up way this time around.
And I am beginning to think that almost all Christians carry this dilemma.
The God in the bible is not a Loving God. The God in the bible is not a consistent God. The God in the bible leaves no physical trace behind so many of these world shattering events we read of in the bible. And He did wipe out whole nations – did demand so much blood and gore – and is really easy to make fun of – as atheists do …
Atheists usually know the bible so much better than “us” – just like the devil in fact (don’t we learn that the devil also uses the bible against us). And all our best memorised verses come tumbling down. We are mocked. So we call that “persecution”. We call that “defending God” (which earns us a few more points to be redeemed in heaven). Good Christians have to reconcile all of “that” with THE message of love and grace and salvation. And we do. We do that really well. We are believers.
“You cannot tempt us – get thee behind me Satan (and all that) – I am on the narrow road to the narrow gate! Yay!”
And I also wonder more and more if that is why I see so many slumbering Christians. So …
Will the real God please stand up … ?
And now for some serious bible study …