When we decide free-will is not the answer


Proximity touches.

The attack in Paris yesterday filled me compassion. The French and British peoples have a mixed relationship. Yet I saw news of that office attacked, the ease and complacency of the attackers, the names called out before their execution, the casual bullet as an already wounded policeman was murdered. And it hurt. So much more than the thousands dying so far away. The thousands who are less close.

Proximity hurts.

And I turned to Him. Asking for some sense in all of this. There seems to be an “us and them” being hurled in our faces. Attacks across the globe. All in the name of religion. Offence taken on behalf of The Prophet. Legalism lifted to a whole new level. Fundamentalism fighting for real. Love and worship distorted to hatred and casual taking of life. Now “we” are on the receiving end. Knowing for the very first time (in my lifetime) how that feels. Finding out how I react. And wondering how “they” felt when “we” do it to “them” – have done it to them (oh boy does history paint an objective picture) – and sadly – still do it.

Proximity is real.

We seem to have a zone of compassion around us. A geographical zone. Maybe that is why all the charities and fundraisers have to use that personalised perfect sad teary child every time. Our proximity zone protects us. Those images crash through that buffer zone. All of us connected to creation and innocents.

Maybe that is the biggest reason for getting out of our safe lifestyles, our safe churches and our safe proximity zones. To connect with those outside. To crash our own buffer zones. And perhaps that is the best reason for connecting with GSHJ – God Soft Hands Jesus. For really connecting. Rather than keeping Him outside our safe-almost-there-but-not-quite proximity buffer zone. The one we can choose to step into – or out of.

When we connect we crash the proximity zone. We connect with part of us. We connect to creation. We connect rather than disconnect. And when you are killing your own rather than the enemy – when you are hurting one with whom you connect –then it is real. Then it hurts. Then it touches.

Wherever, and however, we prop-up our selective-proximity-buffer zone, it is the same disconnect. And where there is disconnect, there fundamentalism feeds. Religion and god and fundamentalism: a lesson in belief maintenance.

Whether it be casual murder in the name of god. Whether it be casual blindness to those in need around us. Whether it be a distancing ourselves from our next door neighbour. Whenever we take over god’s job – take offence on god’s behalf – know better that god – know who god loves and who he doesn’t – know why god loves and why he doesn’t – when we decide free-will is not the answer – then there is disconnect.

And there fundamentalism festers in division dissent disdain.

And I have no answers.

For that is to take back the work of God. That is for me to know better than my Father. That is when guidance and relationship cease and casual killing begins. Killing quickly with bullets and bombs or killing slowly with disconnect and disdain.

”As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

Now it may be that Jesus was sitting in the boat and was already full of compassion. Was always full of compassion. And no one noticed. Except that is not what is written.

“As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them”

Don’t know about you. But the more I connect with Him the more I want to connect with you, with my neighbour, with those murdered, with those murdering.

Because the more I connect – the less I fear.

”As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him …” Mark 6:34-44

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8 thoughts on “When we decide free-will is not the answer

  1. This post helped to soothe my soul. I have been wrestling in my heart over the Paris shootings, trying to deal with the anger and frustration with the powerlessness the victims have. Only when I look at events through the lens of the love of Jesus can I feel any forgiveness for the perpetrators. Thank you so much for writing this post!

    • Merryn, I am so glad I read your latest piece and your About before coming back here to add any words. Because without any real confidence of answering your comment here – I was struggling. “Thank you” seeming very ordinary, and any more probably very patronising. Now I know what I want to say.

      There are times when writing I have not the faintest idea why. All I do trust is my role as being to hear and sense what He desires. That the words written here deliver whatever it is He wishes. And having written and them “plopped my pebble” in the still waters – any subsequent ripples are none of my business. Those are His not mine. This morning this post was not my favourite. Topical news somehow seems too easy to jump into and add unhelpfully to already polarised positions. Dragging God into all of that never seems fair to Him.

      Yet last night I asked Him for guidance – and was offered the verses above. Last night they made no sense. And this morning only a little more. Until I began writing. And then they made sense. He seemed happy, and so to the “publish” button. And in the “writing-of” I saw and sensed something I had not seen or sensed before. And words came which fitted that sense, my love, and (I hope) His as well..

      So when you added your comment – He and I looked at each other – Him with the wry smile He has. Me with the “did we do good?” puzzlement so often on my face. Thank you. You plop you and your Lord on a page for all the world to see. And what comes through is real. And beautiful. And powerful. Thank you again.

      • Wow. I was blinking back tears (good ones!) as I read this. Isn’t it bizarre how we so often doubt our ability to make a difference in this world and yet, God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what He’s doing. I am so touched by the way God is empowering people in this WordPress community to bring real encouragement to me at a time I need it in abundance. He, in turn, is helping me pass it on, it seems! So glad!!! Just a few days ago I obeyed a prompting which I have had several times, to write a letter of apology to an old school friend I parted ways with late March. (I have previously written about it in a poem- “Regretful Goodbye” and referred to it in subsequent posts. What God was asking me to do seemed nothing short of ridiculous- this person had blocked most avenues of contact. I wrote the letter in draft form and was edgy until I set aside the time to empty my bursting heart in full. What happened was remarkable- the words flowed without need for a further draft. I could relate to the way you shared that your post wrote itself with God’s guidance. Like you, I still doubted whether I had done the right thing. Nevertheless, I posted the letter, knowing that it was now out of my hands.
        More specific to your post, I really believe this is a time for Christians to stand up and not be silent. Fear will silence us, but perfect love, casting out the fear, will give us the boldness we need. If we are meek and humble and listening to the Holy Spirit, nothing else matters.

      • Stunned. In such a good way.

        Your words remind me of something I hold dear (and of late find easy to forget). That WP and our Lord are also connected. That “likes” and “follows” too often seem to be Him saying – have a look, connect, the time is now. It is something I need reminding of. Just as you have.

        “Fear will silence us, but perfect love, casting out the fear, will give us the boldness we need. If we are meek and humble and listening to the Holy Spirit, nothing else matters.”

        I have no idea why these connections happen, nor do I question why. All I know is that my faith and trust are enriched through this bloggy church. A safe place to snuggle ever closer to our Father. To take another faltering step towards Him. I love your words: until I set aside the time to empty my bursting heart in full.

        Just this … WOW!! Thank you.

  2. These are powerful words, Paul. So needed in our present world today – “Don’t know about you. But the more I connect with Him the more I want to connect with you, with my neighbour, with those murdered, with those murdering.
    Because the more I connect – the less I fear.”
    Thank you. Thank you and Thank You Jesus.
    cate

  3. The Paris murders brought me once again to “why?”
    I have become a bit better about realizing I may never know why. But your last sentence is very profound. If we dare connect and become fearless, then we can love one another as our God intended. We can dare break the borders between us and them. Very thought provoking post for me today.

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