Unconditional Love – (IX)

As one who is living through “brexit”, I have been surprised how little has changed.  People are still following their own agendas – but that is politics as I know politics.  And the price of yeast extract (that I love on my toast) has indeed risen a penny or two.  And we may have inflation to come.  But I remember inflation in double figures.  We all blamed the government of the day back then.  And we voted them out as soon as we were allowed – only to find that the “other lot” were no different.  Not really.  So I look at the “Trump and Clinton hysteria” in the same way – right now it is an immediate emotional reaction (and we did that too, the morning after brexit)

Anyway … bibles open and off we go again … !

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How would you “prepare”, “educate”, “teach”, “enable to feel safe” your own child for something they were not able to comprehend?  How would you love your child and yet place a word or a thought in their minds that was necessary – that they may not “get” right then – but that allowed them to still feel safe – to still feel loved unconditionally?

Hello Jesus.

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Then he said to the disciples,
“The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.” Luke 17:20-25

The more I read the bible with my “new deconstructed bible eye” – the more I see a masterclass in love without condition in EVERY verse.  The less I care for the precision of historical accuracy, the perfection of speech transcripts, the “agenda” of others … the more I read a deconstructed bible – the more I am able to read the Living Bible – hear The Word of God – today – right now – in my context – my time – MY place.

So a question like “When are you coming back Father?” is already answered:  Paul you are kingdom. You are indwelt. You are infused with kingdom right now as you type these words. That – for me – IS my  living faith!

And a “speech” like the one above is simply another lesson in love: Jesus speaks to the Pharisees – “us”, and then turns to His disciples – also “us”.  And for those who desire precision – there is His first speech: “Figure it out, you have your answer – here it is.”  And for those who desire relationship – there is His second speech: “Do not fear, I am with you always – even when it will seem that I am not.”

“Defended Bible”  Question after question after question – debate after debate after debate – acrimony and acrimony and more acrimony.  THAT is divisive – that is conditional love.

“Deconstructed Bible”  Love and love and more love without condition – love spoken to me in my place and my time – in your time and your place.  THAT is respectful – that is unconditional loving.

My time and my place is now.  It can only ever be “now”.  Just as the bible was written for those in their own “now” (over their centuries and centuries).  So I can EITHER use the bible to continue my divisive tension between “historical accuracy” and “historical inaccuracy”.  And I can continue to only use the bible as “the scientific encyclopaedia of religion” … and I will snap.   Because at some point my “faith” WILL snap – and I will blame someone or something, OR …

I can play with the bible … I can deconstruct the bible … I can view the bible as “their” time and “their” place … I can shed the tension between “science” and “faith” … I can shed having to defend the bible as an accurate historical document … I can shed having to sweep all the messy bits under the carpet … and I can be free to love and be loved.

Because I have found something really exciting in all of this …

I can actually see love without condition – unconditional love – as mine right now.  I can really see that it always has been.  I really believe that it was what I was born for.  That is kingdom.  That is heaven.  And that is not just “attainable” (today or at some point when I am “good enough”), but that is freely available RIGHT NOW (and always has been).

It’s just I was taught that “it” wasn’t.  I was taught we had to “earn it”.  I was taught that when I was saved – all of that was stored up as treasure in heaven – to be collected after I died. And it keeps getting weirder …

This invitation to “die to self” … to be “reborn” … to allow God Soft Hands Jesus to indwell in every cell of my being and consciousness …

I was taught that meant dying to all the “secular stuff” … “of this world stuff” … all this “them” stuff  – the drugs, rock and roll and casual sex “stuff”.  THAT is how I was taught I must “die to self” and be reborn without it all weighing me down anymore.  But you want to know something massively “deconstructing” … ?

I have never heard “dying to self” taught as shedding all this religious Christian tradition (that is also “of this world”).  All this “don’t rock the boat you must believe in this and that and you must do things this way and not that way” … all this manmade “of this world religious stuff”.  And today – with a deconstructed eye – I wonder why.  I wonder why we even think we “have it right” with our “Christian Tradition” of God, bible and church.

Bear with me here …

Didn’t the Pharisees think tradition? Didn’t the Sadducees think tradition? Didn’t the scribes and lawyers think the same?  And today – don’t we read our bibles and see “them” … don’t we sneer (lovingly) and wonder how they could have missed “it”?  Don’t we chuckle and ask ourselves – it’s so bleeding obvious – they were right religious thickos!   Because there was Jesus actually walking amongst them – the Messiah they prayed for and hoped for … and there He is … here He is … and “they” never even knew!  And worse than that, “they” strung him up and banged nails into Him!  How very dare they!

But …

Do we EVER choose to “die to self” (as in of this world “Religious Bible Church Christian tradition”)?  Because wasn’t THAT exactly what Jesus asked the Pharisees to do?  To die to all their religious tradition that was of this world – that was keeping them from kingdom … ?

I was never taught “that”.  And I never hear “that” (unless applied to all the legalistic religious nuts who actually believe they are “Christians” … really???)

I am taught that we say the right words and we are saved!  THAT is “our” Christian tradition today (and all that is left  – fall into line and all the “church stuff” that us saved souls have to do).  And today I wonder why.  Today I see not a minority of Pharisees as I have been taught to see.  Today I feel a lot like Jesus must have felt – the whole place is crawling with Pharisees!  Everywhere you look!  Under every rock and in every crevice!  Pharisees everywhere!

Which is beginning to address a question I have kept to myself for a long time now …

Why do so few Christians (admit to) hear(ing) the voice of God?   Like as in conversations.  Like as in real relationship.  Like as we would expect – demand – of someone real.

Because I have been told statistics … I have been told percentage points for those who are “gifted that way”- the privileged few who will ever chat away with God in “real words”.  And I have never been satisfied with that thinking.  But today – with all this “shedding” … THAT explanation begins to sound more and more like “of this world religious science”.  And now (with a deconstructed bible , a deconstructed eye, and a deconstructed God) none of that “religious science” makes any sense to me anymore.

Unless …

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Ponder time again.  Please add your own thoughts below.  Back here tomorrow as usual.  Thank you. 

Imagine the power

I have recently made a decision. For me it was massive.  For a very small number it was big.  For others it was just another decision.  But the entire world, minus a small handful, was blissfully unaware.

In this online community of followers, questioners, doubters, and followers of something else I have only now realised something even more important. That the community of our Father “here” just might be connected more than the community of local church here.  And that I take for granted that others in this online community will hear God guiding my guiding – that they will be tuned in to my guidance in their own guidance – that the Lord really does speak through others to speak to us.  And I only realised how much I take all that for granted here – because of the absence of any in local church life here.  Apart from one who spoke.

Take it to the Lord in prayer?

How often we pray for others, are asked to pray for others. But how rarely we “talk with God” in others about “stuff” in our own lives – other than a coded “please pray for me”.  It is a side of fellowship I have come to value in this online community.  A side of fellowship that makes hearing God much easier.  One might call it “group discernment”.  And if you are unfamiliar with how “it works” – here is how it works for me …

I will simply seek out and chat with one or more of those I fellowship with. I will chat through whatever it is I feel I am guided to or from.  Because I know that as I chat – they are listening not just to me – they are also listening to their own God Soft Hands Jesus.  They are tuned-in to the same God as me.  And they will hear something.  Often it is the same yes or no as I am hearing – often it will be the absence of a yes or no – it will be a silence.  And that silence is as valuable as yes or no.  The silence means that I may not be hearing 100% clearly, but my guidance is in “the same ballpark”, that my intended decision is not catastrophic – it is not dangerous (and may cause me to delay or make a decision).  I also do the same with others – what is God saying to me?  A “by-product” is that it removes personal preference.  If we are truly guided by God, then “hearing” what He has to say may be the exact opposite to our own advice – our own preferences – our own decisions.

And my thought is this – locally we seem intent on having fellowship so long as we can remain in control. That we control what we do, what God does through us, how we work for God.

And that is not damaging.  It is not even a sadness on my part.  It is simply a new awareness of something I had “lost” in the plethora of stuff that is church life locally.  Locally we talk of a prayer life. Locally we have prayer groups that pray for others.  We have house-groups that talk about others.  That pray for each other.  And even though we talk about the Voice of God as one of the elements of worship and relationship – the reality of “group connection” in this way of guidance seems rare.

In this online community one of those I love told of the time they were on their way to tell someone of their decision. It was a decision reached after a lot of thought. A lot of frustration.  A lot of asking their God.  It was to be an irreversible decision.  And whilst they were sitting waiting for their appointment to tell (whoever) how things were to be – their phone rang.  It was a fellowship buddy.  Who simply said that they had no idea what was going on, it was just God had asked them very assertively to call with a very simple message.  That whatever it was they were about to do – God asked them not to (very assertively).  That God had pulled this person out of a meeting with the urgency, and this person was simply passing on that urgency: whatever it was – don’t do it!  And this person put the phone down and went back to their meeting.

Online or locally we are all connected. Online or locally we are all fellowship buddies if we allow.  And if our “prayer life” is always on behalf of others, is always a shopping list of urgent need for relief of pain and illness and poverty and persecution and “trauma” … how much room does that leave for being connected with our Loving Father in each other?  For the “small stuff” – the stuff of all our lives week after week?

I said earlier I had no sadness at the absence of “that” locally … I have such a fire of hope.

I have hope that if these connections can begin to spark, that is these connections are “played with” by others, that is these connections become as real for others as they are for the few I have been drawn towards – then just imagine the power we draw upon … just imagine the power that “when one or two or gathered in my name” we both realise and release …

Isn’t the reality that we all believe we are  insignificant – unworthy – not up to very much at all – not like those we read about.

But isn’t the truth that we are ALL as “insignificant” as the disciples, as the saints, the heroes, the heroines of the bible – each one of us is them – each of them was “insignificant” before they allowed … before the were guided … before they were who they have become in our minds …  Because in this fallen world we bemoan so often – on this glorious gift of a planet that sustains and nurtures such a glowing tapestry of flourishing life …

Imagine the power we followers release in each other if we truly are drawn together in our everyday life. Not just a prayer life for others in need and ourselves in our unworthiness. But a “prayer life” of connection and affirmation in our daily living.

Imagine the power we draw in those decisions we might (never) make on our own with our God – when WE stay in control – when WE call (and don’t) the shots – when WE decide what is possible and what is not!  Imagine being released from what we think is possible …

I am!