Why would people say that?


“Love is the greatest commandment, and the commandment we are greatest at breaking”

Last Friday I wrote a post called “Polishing Temples.” I deleted it soon after.

That post was my way of recording my internal demolition of a long-loved long-held unshakeable principle/belief/tradition. One I had polished and preserved. And one that was becoming increasingly hollow: “All Are Welcome” having a bunch of fatherly “this is how it is” conditions entwined. All realised that and did not feel very welcome.

I deleted that post because demolishing this particular “hollow polished temple” came with collateral damage. Demolition always comes with some damage: The thoughtful focused preparation. Then an imposed exclusion zone. Followed by the noise, dust, flying bricks. A clean-up operation. And then what to put in the new and empty space?

I had collateral damage. Unnecessary hurt. With-hindsight knowledge. A windy empty space yet to be populated. And no regrets in pressing the BOOM button (just some thoughts on demolition and how to/how not to).

“Love is the greatest commandment, and the commandment we are greatest at breaking”

Last night I was at a Church Council meeting. I am the new council secretary.

And as meetings go it bears more than a passing resemblance to many I have attended in my working life. A lot of jargon. A lot of stuff already discussed and decided in advance. Concerns about “change in the world” and falling membership numbers, falling cash-flow, rising expenditure outstripping income. A lot of good “busy-stuff” feedback. A lot of diary-date affirmation. The usual “business as usual.” Good people.

And towards the end, a question was asked: Would the council consider letting-out the church hall itself? As the rooms behind/around are all available for hire – what about the main “church” itself?

This great big clean, warm, polished and re-polished, full of chairs, lofty height, big space church hall. Empty of life – of love – other than two hours per week.

(and immediate “comfort” was offered by the minister as the question hung in the air: yes we all know this is “our sanctuary” where we come and we “feel safe” … yet maybe it was a question worth considering … at some point … in the future … maybe?)

All Are Welcome!

Really?

“Love is the greatest commandment, and the commandment we are greatest at breaking”

And then the verses this morning. Another slice of the John Style pie:
“‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’ John 17:25-26

Love is stamped all over the bible. Old Testament underneath/inside all the smiting. New Testament underneath all the indignation/legal challenges. Love is written. Love is The Word. And the Word is Love. We all buy-into Love.

We polish that word. We make a temple of that word. We like temples.

We can stand outside and admire the beauty. We can venture inside and be wowed by the awesomeness. We can add little trinkets and decorations. We can trim the grass and add a few flowers here and there. We encourage a reverence, a hush, about the place. We are so very good at polishing temples. They become more and more reverent. More and more an idol. More and more hollow. Yet indestructible.

Too scary to demolish. Where we feel safe. In control.

“Love is the greatest commandment, and the commandment we are greatest at breaking”

How come we are so great a breaking the greatest of all – and so very crap at demolishing the obvious so … that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them … ?

Because – truth be told – we don’t even need an ology argument. Nor cleverness. Nor much of anything really. We simply need “business as usual” – with “love” all shiny and polished – lots of polish.

Lovingly polished with fear. The sweetest odour we think as love. This little bit of heaven. Stinking of scared. Sacred Love has become Scared Love.

“Love is the greatest commandment, and the commandment we are greatest at breaking”

Rebekah and the lord gave me these thirteen words. Just a comment, a small moment. Without fear. (You can read the full moment underneath yesterday’s: https://justmebeingcurious.com/2014/06/04/love-v-love-have-i-gone-nuts/)

Yet I would like to add a little more of that moment:
“Paul, after I wrote those words I thought the same thing about it being put so plainly and powerfully. Might have even patted myself on the back and been a tad proud of it. But here’s the thing, the more and more I am part of this community, reading your words and the words of others, the more God’s Word is at work within us. I didn’t say that. That was the Spirit talking. So, with that said, those words were for you.

Anyone see a temple in those words? Anyone smell any fear in that gift? Anyone see scared love?

”I’m just thinking out loud here … God is love. Some have said that God is dead. Why would people say that? For we know that God is NOT dead, but He is risen, He is alive. Perhaps they say this because the love of man has grown cold. Particularly, the men (and women) who are called to be salt and light to the lost world. (Rebekah – http://hiddenwithyou.com)

And that question ran around my head. The killer question:

“We know that God is NOT dead. Why would people say that?”

Maybe because the endless debate is just more polish.
A debate not about love – it’s about another temple.
A temple of fear.
Where we hide.
Where we keep God safe.

“We know that God is NOT dead. Why would people say that?”

“Love is the greatest commandment, and the commandment we are greatest at breaking”

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14 thoughts on “Why would people say that?

  1. Have we turned the idea of “love” into a hollow temple? Looks good. Sounds good. But few REALLY want to go there when it applies to real people. Different people. People we don’t know. Pondering…

  2. “We know that God is NOT dead. Why would people say that?”

    This question has echoed in me all morning. I know I had an immediate sense of understanding the answer. Two answers, actually. Not sure if age has anything to do with it… having been university age during the “God-is-dead” time, or not.

    But “why would people say that?”

    One: Because for those who refuse to acknowledge or see the Father/God/Love/Consciousness, it is vastly more comfortable to climb up upon a Straw Man Effigy, plunge one’s existential lance into him, and declare victory! Like some bizarre St. George declaring freedom over the “oppression” of Omnipresence. Fantasy or not, this is both a comforting and empoweing trope for those dedicated to ruling in the darkness.

    Two: (Perhaps more uncomfortable). There are those who have danced over the grave of an Idol… falsely named God…. who has been held forth for centuries as a totem, a token, a justification for social darwinism, political and economic terrorism, and unspeakable horror in the name of God, Country, Church, and Establishment. It is no “subtle insight” to realize that the institution of religion, when allied with the state, has often resulted in the most horrendous human abuses. (The Crucifixion of Jesus, by collaboration between the Sanhedrin and Romans, not the least of these.)

    Somewhere around the 50’s-60’s-70’s… more people than not brought their lives to a place where the pressure of the local preacher, minister, or priest could no longet tell them who to marry, what color to date, or what party to vote for. THAT God… that manipulative, man-made, mannequin-God… held up to panic and terrify the faithful and trusting masses who never read the Gospels for themselves, or knew Jesus personally… just trusted the “henchmen” who used Him for their own power, political, economic interests… THAT God was declared dead.

    Unfortunately, the declaration of his demise… positive though that may have been… has often left a vacuum these generations later. As people yet seek for God, love, meaning, life.

    But… maybe that’s why they said it.

    • LM – I have sat on this comment and pondered longer than usual. Thank you.

      And what he has guided from your words is this one word: Vacuum.

      And the “truth” that a vacuum has only one desire. To be filled. To be no longer a vacuum. Distant school and physics lessons memory! And with a desire to be filled – to be loved up with something/someone bigger – WAHOO!!!!

      What an opportunity! The ground is fertile. The earth is moist. Our dirt brothers and sisters are ready. Are desiring of relationship. Of love. Of God! The “real god”. The Love god.

      “Build each other up”? You just have!! Thank you!!!!!!!!

  3. Ugh! Wrote out a genuine response to this that never posted–our internet is down and will be for a week so my access will be very limited since I can’t just hop on at home. Anyway, this post is meaningful and blessed me. A lot of what you write about gets me thinking and pushes me to share more freely, like I did on my post today. Thank you. The Love thing . . . why do we so easily miss it.

    • Paula – I saw your post yesterday. And realised that I become a tad cautious on some topics. Concerned that a “dollop of Paul” in your comments box might detract rather than enhance your wonderful words. Your reaching others. Your pebbles and His ripples. Your post was one of those moments.

      A brave moment. Full of love. Full of “you and Him” on a page. Such beauty. Such “God”.

      And your internet? He has shown me so often how he never wastes anything. So rather than bemoan no internet – I am excited that something is more fun, important, yet to be experience … all and any of that … as you wait in the vacuum of no virtual fellowship! Really excited!!

      (there are also times when I think I have lost the plot completely!!)

      🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Good morning Rebekah – as I wrote those words I hoped so very much that they did justice to the gift you had offered so freely. Hoped I was hearing good. Because that was such a precious gift he gave you and then me.

      You have been on my mind. Because each time I read your words I hear another’s in my mind. It happened again as I read your comment here. I am nervous that I am hearing good – that offering something might be the wrong thing. So please accept this as “take it or leave it”.

      I always think of Heather when I read your words.
      http://insideheathershead.com/
      And I don’t know why my lord does that.

      I have also learned I don’t need to know. So I pray I am hearing good, Because I have this (tingly) sense that you and she are connected. And I don’t know why.

      • Thank you so much for this! I loved her Eden story. I have pondered Eve and Eden so much in the past. If I ever write a book, that is what it will be about, at least, the story it will be based on. I’m gonna follow her blog now. Now I am thanking YOU for the gift! And sorry my comments have been so delayed. Been caught up with other things, haven’t been keeping up here very well the past few days.

  4. Wow…another amazing post, Paul. I am blessed to read your words today and have them touch my heart. I am in awe of the time you spend with the Father. His presence in your life pours forth from your words and settles across my shoulders like a warm blanket on a cold day.

    Have you ever read a passage of scripture and thought, “Hmm…I can’t ever remember reading that until now”? That happens to me a lot. And it’s not that I haven’t actually read the scripture, it’s that I haven’t seen it. Not until God wanted me to see it. To really see it. Well, that happened as I was reading your post.

    These Words from John pierced me in a way that is hard to explain. They were both heartbreaking and breathtaking: “the world does not know you, but I know you”. I think of those romance movies where the best friend finally confesses his love the night before she marries the “wrong” man. He always says, “He doesn’t know you like I know you.” I realized the level of intimacy that comes from knowing someone for a long time. Where you can tell just from a sigh what that person is thinking or feeling. Where the history of those millions of moments spent laughing and crying, knee-deep in conversations breeds a knowing. I stop to ask myself, Do I know God? Really know Him? Do I know Him better than the few people in my life who I think I “know”?

    I believe that knowing God and having that level of intimacy with Him is what prompted Jesus to conclude His prayer with: “so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”. Can you imagine, Paul? My mind is blown.

    Knowing births love. Of course it does. The more we know God, the more we love. Because He is love. And how can you know the author of Love and not want to be, speak, hear, do, think, breathe, breed, and feel love, too?

    I think of other times when Jesus talked about knowing and love, about lips confessing knowledge of Him but hearts saturated with hate, about prophesying and performing miracles out of love for the Lord yet not knowing, truly knowing Him.

    Paul, I want to know my Father SO THAT the love He has for me will be in me. To know so that I love.

    Thank you once again, Paul, for listening to the Father, for knowing Him, and for loving your readers enough to share this with us. I am forever changed.

    • Just an update to my comment from Friday…

      My friend, Lady Di, and I met Sunday and the John 17 scriptures (and your post) produced a six-hour “jam” session where God conducted us, His willing orchestra, through His Word. Our hands and minds grew tired from the intricate masterpiece of His Word. He revealed so much to us (to me) and has placed several post ideas on my heart. I can’t wait to explore them further. I can’t wait to feel His familiar tap.

      Thanks, Paul, for this post and for the beauty God has shown me as a result of your words and His.

      • Heather, you are a very authentic delight. Always. I saw the update pop into the new “stuff” notification. Came to have a look and only then realised your first beautiful words lay unanswered. Immediate me “whince” replaced very quickly by a quiet word … “You would have distracted their jamming sesh”

        Jamming session? Six hours? Wowee!!! You make my heart sing!! That three piece you and Di and He had … Wow!!! He and I have been known to rock and roll – but never in such a wonderful way!!! Go Heather, go!!

        At this end he is doing some home-brew. How long the brew takes … no idea. The smell and sounds are enthralling. So some words are in the making – just “not yet Paul – not yet”.

        And I get the sense you have just popped a few extras into His mix. The words “and I will make it known” just leaped out as I scrolled down the page. What did you say … “Have you ever read a passage of scripture and ….”

        Well it just did!!!

        Heather this orchestra keeps adding notes and sounds. You keep adding notes and new sounds. Now I have to figure out how to get my own jamming session going here. It sounds AweSome!!!!

        And when your ideas blossom – I will be waiting to share the birth of those words.

        Thank you with great affection. 🙂

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