When that kicks in – loves checks out

.

.

I think loving me the hardest of all.  I don’t mean the “I can’t be bothered.” … the “I could never do that.” … the “Let someone else do it.”   Nor do I mean the “I am better than anyone else.”… the “I have rights.” … the “What about me.”

I mean loving me as I would love my own child … my own partner … that stranger in need … that best friend I have known for ever … that special someone I would walk over hot coals for …

That kind of “loving me”.

.

.

The greatest of these.

God?  Well loving God comes in all shapes and sizes.  Initially like a stranger who must be obeyed.  Then, perhaps, as a wonderful deity who can only be worshipped and praised.  Then, maybe, the most important relationship in my life.  Then, possibly, a friend – a best friend.  No longer the detached “up there” gaseous ether.  Now someone I trust.  Not to “fix things” all the time.  That is my role – just like no friend expects me to “fix things” in every part of their life.  That would be just plain weird!  Just someone who will always think the best of me.  Never give up on me.  Always have an ear for me.

I heard someone who does daily marathons for a living say that we rarely – if ever – really know what we are each capable of.  I think that lack of knowing underpins this “The Greatest of these” …

Others?  Well loving others is pretty easy too.  An odd donation … I am praying for you … My thoughts are with you … perhaps even a volunteering of my time – my skills – my resources – my heartbeats – perhaps even my whole diary!  Which is like giving my life for you (the “others” we must love).  Except that is a weird kind of love.  It’s an obligation kind of love.  A duty kind of love.  A service kind of love.  A bit like a God kind of love.  I should (if I am a good Christian).

I heard someone say that “We are a broad church”.  That the buildings aren’t “it” that “we are” it.  But I still don’t really know what “it” is.   Or why I am expected to go to “it”.   I think “it” gets in the way of “The Greatest of these” …

And then me.

What I have found over the years is that when I consciously register that I am “doing” love (in whatever moment of my life and with whoever that moment is with) … It is no longer love.  It is me “giving”.

And I have learned that when I think “giving” I think “getting” (in some weird default can’t control it kind of way).  I have found that when this “The Greatest of these” is a “commandment” … giving AND getting become involved.

.

.

And when that kicks in – loves checks out.

.

And as I absorb the essence of (what I think) is the point of the bible … I find that “commandment stuff” less and less relevant.  Along with all this “transaction” faith we have created … The need to sign-up for the creeds stuff.  The “I believe” stuff.  The hierarchy stuff.  The “institution” stuff.  The “religion” stuff which includes creation and sin and a lot of deaths and more sin and atonement through more killing innocent creatures bred for the purpose of “their blood shed for me”.

And then the great “reset”. 

The cross and resurrection – and a conundrum.  The “blood shed for me” being the biggie – with the “resurrection” being the proof it’s all good.  Because if the blood is “it” then why the need for the resurrection?  And if the resurrection is “it” why the need for the killing and blood?  there is loads of healing and bringing others back to life – loads of “your sins ore forgiven”  – all without a cross in sight …

And why the “facts and evidence” we have now made all of this.  The “But God Says” (in the bible).  And the bible is The Word of God (but the Koran isn’t).  Nor is (just) the Old Testament.  Nor is  the continuous political meddling relevant – other than it proves the bible IS God inspired (really???).

Why that “need” for the bible to be “it” – unless it is so the church can be “it” – which means I get to be “it” by being saved and believing in all of “it”?

The Greatest of these.

Two words have become more and more powerful in my journey with The Greatest of these …

“I Am”.

I

and

Am

.

.

The Greatest of these is I and Am.

.

(what else can top that?)

.

 

Putting off the “love bit”

.

“It’s never going to work”, Nan’s Notebook

“I am not a believer.

I left Christianity nearly 20 years ago and have not regretted my decision for one single moment.”

 – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

.

More and more I wonder why we have made “believer” synonymous with “faith and/or religion” – which means “believing” is now “believing” in a proscribed and defined deity.  And is the cause of much verbal warfare (and far worse) … of many institutions and the ongoing “warfare” over their legitimacy/supremacy assumed AND legitimacy/supremacy challenged.

(all of which “gets in the way” a tad)

.

.

I was a believer of many things before I became a “believer”.

I still am.

I believed in love – and still do.  I believed in hard work and getting up again – and still do.  I believed in kindness – and still do.  I believed I shouldn’t be rude – and …  I believed my mum and dad knew everything – and …  I believed my big brother was awesome – and still do.  Just not in the idolising/hate way I used to.

.

In short, my living is founded on beliefs of all kinds.  And those beliefs changed and still change.  My “believer” belief no different.

“I am not a believer.” Is like saying I am dead.  Unable to believe anything anymore.  Beyond belief.  Literally.

.

I am.

A believer and always will be.

.

But what I believe … Now that changes constantly.

.

.

I see Jesus being a believer.

Of love. Of kindness.  Of meeting each where each is in that moment.  Of not labelling or categorising or compartmentalising.   Of allowing and empowering.  Of enabling and liberating.  Of changing for me as I change for me.

.

.

As for the “factual” and “literal” healing and miracles and superpowers and dying and resurrecting and the “evidence” of the bible …

Which must include all that sacrifice and slavery and original sin not eating bacon sandwiches and genocide (repeatedly) of the Old God … 

I don’t need that to be true as I don’t need the New God and the cross to be true.

.

For if I need that to be true to be a “believer” … what else do I “need”?

.

So, when Nan comes along and blows great big holes in my “believing” (she has written a superb book challenging the “believers” beliefs) … then where do I go and what do I “believe”?

.

.

And all that Old God “badboy stuff” … ?

.

My reading is that loads of that (going back to the Garden and forwards) was a crafted and superstitious and controlling bigging-up of “my God is bigger than your God” rhetoric.  Because there is no point in being “Chosen” if your God ain’t the Biggest Baddest Top Table God.

.

But – If I read the bible right … I don’t think Jesus needs anything.

Which is the power of love without any conditions at all.

.

Maybe that’s why we struggle with love.

We need it to be conditional.

So we argue about “the conditions” …

.

.

which (conveniently) puts off the “love” bit.

.

 

The “how” rather than the “it”

I woke up this morning with the law on my mind.

Almost all my career has been working with companies who provide a service to other companies.  Just as each human being needs resources to live, so do companies.  And unlike each human, almost all companies will provide resources to another company on credit.  The obligation to pay – but just not yet.  And credit is governed by contract.  A piece of paper agreed by both that is enforceable by law.  And the ruling of a court of law is enforced by sanctions.  Sanctions that allow goods and possessions to be taken.

And the reality is a lottery.

In the main I have worked for small companies. And where litigation has been necessary as the plaintiff or defendant I have been personally involved.  On one occasion I was in court and the judge asked the plaintiff company suing my company: “Do you see anything else in your terms of business you would like to draw to my attention to before I give my ruling?”  I scanned the paperwork (discretely) before giving a sigh of relief (silently) when the plaintiff replied: “No – nothing else I am aware of, madam.”  We walked away from court with nothing further to pay.

And to this day I remember that particular case: “Does the plaintiff see anything else … ?”

I have no idea what that was. But I do know that we won the case because none of us spotted what the judge spotted.  It wasn’t the judge’s job to share that knowledge – as “legally formed companies”, we were expected to know.  And as we obviously didn’t – the judge ruled on the evidence presented that day.

We have this view of “the law”. That it will protect us. That it will keep us safe.  That it will serve us.  The reality is a process that has rules and sanctions and consequences that are often seen to be unfair by one party of the other (and often both).  A process almost always used by those with a grievance.  With a motivation “to get” – or to avoid “being got”.  The “law” is not perfect but one side will always want to take (or stop being taken) from the other.

I read my bible – but I would never stand up in a court of law and use it as evidence.   I don’t read my bible as a correct and infallible historical document – I read my bible because I have found  it describes a way of living that describes unconditional love – that describes relationship – that has become my living relationship.  I do accept my bible has been translated and interpreted and translated and interpreted – that some bits are left in and some taken out – and I don’t accept that makes it irrelevant.  I do accept the bible was the one book offered to me because of where I was born and lived – I accept a lot of things that others who “don’t believe” believe that I “should believe”.

And I read my bible because the more I do – the more I find a living relationship today and tomorrow.  The more I find a relationship of love without condition – unconditional love.  I call this my relationship with “my God Soft Hands Jesus” – just as you would call me Paul (or him John – or her Elaine – or Judith – or whatever the name we each were given) – just as I might call you “J” or “Jonny” or “Jonny-boy” as I got to know you – I might make your name “our name” with a nickname of affection.

And if you took my bible away from me today and never gave it back – my relationship with GSHJ and unconditional love would live and breathe and flourish.  How do I know?  Because I love a lot of people – and no one ever gave me a book as to how I should love.  But this book?  It has taken my love beyond “love” – it has taken me to unconditional love.  I have found something real I believe in.  I have found Love beyond love.

And whether you believe I am correct or not – whether you believe there is a God or not – whether you believe there is just “this God” and some other – whatever you believe – we are all – ALWAYS believers of “something”.  Because being a believer of “something” (or many “somethings” all at once) is how we all live.

That – for me – is not the important bit.  The stumbling block is “the how” with each other.  That – for me – is the important bit.

I was part of a long conversation with someone I love deeply over the weekend – different opinions – different beliefs.  The questions could have been hurtful.  The conversation could have been toxic.  But it was not.  There was the odd “ouch”.  But there was no “ruling”, there was no “winner” and no “loser”, nor were there “sanctions and consequences”.  Other than we both drew closer to each other – understood each other a little better – allowed each other to “be” a little more – and loved each other even more than before.

Now imagine “applying belief” like that to each other.  About anything.  I can.  I do.  I want to.

And I know some believe love is not enough – that we need rules and the law.  And I know some believe that I should apply my belief in the same way as they apply their belief: in a court of law – with evidence – and rules – and judgement – one of us right – and one of us wrong.  But what I find odd is we never seem to acknowledge that “proving faith and God” is an odd opening position to even “believe in”.

And more than this oddity of belief … an oddity of reality: that my belief (whilst having changed in the past) will not now change in the future.  That my belief is now correct – is now static.  Really?  Well that was not true of your past – because now look at the differences.

My beliefs have changed and mine will continue to change.  And I will only know of that change afterwards.  So how can I say that will not happen again in the future?  So how can one belief ever be “the only belief” (even for the same person)?  And as for “proving faith” … ?

So just why do we get tied up in this “court of law” of beliefs?  Where is relationship, allowing, affection, respect … where is the gentle “application of (changing) belief” … where is the “how” rather than the “it” – doesn’t that need love rather than a court of law?

And if we are talking Love rather than Law … might we talk unconditional love as a way of living (rather than an impersonal “it” of belief that may change)?