So just what is the difference between a smoked kipper and God in all His creation?
Because I was checking out this word “love” and the bible (Bible Gateway – NIV), and was not surprised to see that John is Number One in the new testament with that word appearing 39 times. He is – after all – the disciple whom Jesus loved.
What did surprise me was that he is the only one NOT to record the “greatest of these is” commandment piece. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all do – yet John of Love does not. I wonder why that is.
What did surprise me the absolute most was to learn that this was not Jesus winging it with a cute ad-lib or two, but that the “greatest of these is” comes from the from Smiting Writing Old Testament: Deuteronomy and Leviticus.
Old testament territory – pre-Jesus. Pre-God maybe. The time before Proper Love was invented. So how did “the greatest of all” get in there? How come “the greatest of these” (in my lifetime) now seems to be Jesus territory? Why isn’t it marketed as ancient – rather than modern – stuff? How come the OT gets such a bad press all the time? How come the NT gets such a Good News spin in comparison? How come the perception is so often that Old is “wrinkly crinkly stinky”, whilst the fabulous New is “do do do”?
And the kippers?
When I was a young chap, we had smoked kippers quite often. More accurately, I had eggs – the others all had smoked kippers. I had an allergy to kippers – couldn’t eat kippers without choking. No matter how much bread I added. How tentative I ate. Always choking. Always.
So even the thought of kippers made me go Yeuchh!! And the sight of kippers on a plate – me expected to eat it – killed any appetite no matter how hungry I was. I was (and still am) allergic to eating smoked kippers. Guess what? That allergy put me off fish in general. People would wax droolingly over fishy dishes – I went Yeuchh! People would offer a tasty morsel without a bone in sight – I said no thank you.
An allergy. Of my own making.
Just like I was allergic to God for many many many years. All those rules. They stuck in my throat. Made me feel sick inside. No matter how hungry I was for love – Yeuchh!! No matter what tasty verse others offered me – I went Yeuchh! That allergy not only put me off God, but Love in general. Proper Love. The transaction free kind of Love. God Love. Made love something I deserved, something I could earn, something I could control, something never quite what I hoped for. But God? No way! I choked inside where He wanted to live. The God served to me had so many bones!
An allergy. Of my own making.
Yet as real to me as this keyboard. This computer. This internet pinging these words right into you real computer, your real monitor, your real whatever. An allergy is REAL! And it can last a lifetime.
You know what turned me onto fish (but never smoked kippers)?
It was a glorious wedding anniversary in the Maldives. An indulgence beyond indulgence. A wondrous place, a loving time and a glorious sharing of love. And in the Maldives fish is a big deal. And they have fish steaks as big as sirloin steaks, premium steaks, beautiful food, heavenly food. Fish was brought to me with love and a new eye and an open heart. And in those few days of eternity – I came to love fish for the first time in my life! I found some bones – but so much more flesh than bones. I was in heaven!!
Allergy gone. Of my own making. With some help from others. In the most wonderful and easy way.
And God? How did that happen?
When I was so devoid of hope, so empty of connection, so very sorry for myself, so very alone – yet not very alone – but so very very alone … God happened. In despair. Behind closed doors. On my knees. Sobbing. Broken. Dying to life bit by bit. I was in hell.
Allergy gone. Of my making. With some help from others. In the most dangerous and painful way ever.
And my thought is this.
Why do so many become allergic to God at such an early age? Why do Followers of the Way present something so wonderfully life-changing as smoked kippers full of bones which stick in the throat … no matter how much bread of heaven goes with them … ?
Where are places and times like The Maldives where God can be tasted in a most beautiful way? An all inclusive and affirming way? Without bones everywhere? God without the bones. God with His wondrous flesh. The magnificent aroma. The tantalising plate of love. The drooling and expectation. The fellowship and sharing. The God of Love.
And why is it that being brought to our knees in absolute despair and the absence of all and any hope is called Salvation – Hallelujah! That emptiness is called “dying to the world”? The torture of hell on earth is celebrated as being “reborn”? A sinner saved! Bless the Lord! What a fine witness! You are an inspiration! God is Great!
Because that place …?
How many steps away from suicide was that? How close to no salvation would that have been if I had fallen further (because isn’t suicide deemed the worst sin – I get confused with the Sin League Table)? What if …
What if my allergy to God, the rules choking, the allergic reaction too strong …
What if then I had slipped away? Extinguished the pain. Faced death. Looked it in the eye. And with no hope, no love, no reason … slipped away horribly and painfully and without a second chance.
Would you have prayed for me? Aren’t we all connected? Aren’t we all of The One? Didn’t you help give me that allergy to God? Did you ever – ever – give me a beautiful place? Why is it that Love becomes rules to choke?
So just how many dwell in that place … take just one more very small step from which there is no return. Suicide.
Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. We pray for their souls. We mourn with their families. We shake our heads at the waste. We turn to God and say “if only they knew You like I know You”. And still more. Every day. Every month. Every year.
Just like we feed these kippers full of bones.
Day after day. Month after month. Passing on this allergy to God every time. Then celebrating when one walks with suicide but turns back. Comes within a hairsbreadth. Almost dies to this world in the very real sense of that phrase. Why do we celebrate that place? Why do we revere that experience. What is it that makes it an inspiration and a hallelujah event?
How does that happen? Where does God Jesus Spirit celebrate it … command it … gamble with it?
How is it that we could ever – ever – give another this “Allergy To God”.
Is that what God Jesus really – really – wants of us?
So just why do we celebrate switching off so many to God? Every Sunday. And just why do we celebrate a place so close to real death by real suicide? Hallelujah!
“Where are places and times like The Maldives where God can be tasted in a most beautiful way? An all inclusive and affirming way? Without bones everywhere? God without the bones. God with His wondrous flesh. The magnificent aroma. The tantalising plate of love. The drooling and expectation. The fellowship and sharing. The God of Love.”