There are “not-well” times which advertise themselves and “not-well” times which do not. I have had two bouts of depression which were very visible to those who loved me (and invisible to those who did not). I have had not-well times of bandages and hobbling, and not-well times of no bandages and no hobbling. My learning is that those around need to see “not-well” times to have any idea that help may be welcome.
So I have a problem:
The Good Samaritan: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.” That is your neighbour. That is who you help, love as yourself. That is how you show your love for Me. When your neighbour needs help, you do not pass by on the other side: Luke 10:25-37
And how do you know your neighbour needs help? Your neighbour will be visibly not-well. Just like the dusty peeps in mud huts, poor things! Just like all those sad faces the charity fundraisers use so enthusiastically, poor things. Just like all those poor sinners we have to label in order to save them, poor things.
The Church gets a bashing for not helping those who need help. Those who are just like you and me.
I can testify that the Church is no different to the rest of the world. It needs a label or two. It needs to see a visible not-well. It needs to see its neighbour like any of us need to see our neighbour. In need of help. The Church does get knocked unfairly because it is a church of people just like all of us. Stuffed full of people who are visibly – and invisibly – not-well.
So what do we (as Church) do?
We hang the label of “Christian” on our coat-hooks. And that label makes us believe we know better, we act better, we sleep better, we love better, we spend our money better, we never get ill, we never get depressed, we never give in to temptation, we never admit to any fallibility of the Lost World, of the Sinners, of the Not Yet Saved Like Wot We Are. And this endows us with a lifestyle (that should be) the envy of “them”. We are not allowed to be “them” – because we are saved. And we as “Christians in Church” tell the rest of the world they should be us.
And the rest of the world sees Christians in Church – and a litany of sex abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse the same as reported of celebs, the institutions, the rest of the world. Sees a bunch of people who say and do the right stuff every Sunday and then become “just like them” the rest of the week. Who ARE them (if only we admitted it). And sometimes they see another wonderful person (like so many they see who do not go to Church). But usually we have to tell them. We tell them we have been saved and that they need saving.
And they see the same Pharisees us “Christians in Church” believe we are not. Jesus makes a point to make point.
The answer, for me, is not in the pictures – nor in the labels. For me Jesus IS the answer. All we have to do is to know Him intimately. Know Him as our own Lover. Jesus asks that time and time again. By how He lived, by who He invited, by what He did, by what He said. Yet so often we selectively cherry-pick the bits that suit and ignore the bits that don’t. We have had two thousand years (and counting) to get to know Jesus intimately. Just how long does it take to get to know someone?
Because almost all of us has, or wishes for, a soulmate. A partner in life and living. A family. Children in whom we live for ever. And we, usually, manage to do all that in just one short lifetime.
I am not a Christian. I am not anything you can label – and I will be everything you want to label. Because I am indwelt. I am I Am within. And sometimes I say Yes. And often I say No. And we all say No to God Soft Hands Jesus. And He allows. He waits. He is still within. Always.
So I don’t need to ask “who is our neighbour?” Jesus makes a point to make point.
Love is always the answer. And He will show me how and who every time.
If I allow.