All this “God stuff” … so often it seems to me like any other hobby really.
“Good evening Paul, you are an untrained blogger from England and your specialist subject is “God Stuff”. You have two minutes on your chosen subject and your time starts … now.”
Mastermind. It was must watch TV in the good old days. One of those programmes where you watched to see if you could answer any of the questions posed to very ordinary (very odd – usually – but very ordinary) folk. Each taking their turn to sit in the Big Black Chair. Mostly they sweated a little. All being interrogated on their passion and hobby. Each with the “specialist subject”. And with an occasional smug contestant – so often the epitome of that saying “pride comes before a fall”!
Magnus Magnusson was the ring master. Implacable. Formal. Consistent. Reliable.
I can’t remember anyone bringing “God Stuff” to the programme now I think back. And now I think back I wonder why. Because I seem to bump into many who live their faith as a hobby … a specialist subject … a curiosity.
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”, – this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question. Mark 12:28-34
This morning as He and I snuggled together in these verses, He did that “swervy” thing He so often does.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah … commandment one … love … commandment two … love … yada yada yada … well done … pat on the back … great soundbite … will get passed down through the generations … ”
GSHJ always causes me to stop when He goes all “teenager” on me. Because these two “commandments” are the foundation of my “Love is always the answer – now what is your question?”
These verses (and the parallel verses in Matthew 22:34-40) are my bedrock – GSHJ has encouraged it! So when God Soft Hands Jesus does that “yada yada yada” thing – I know something really cool is on the way!
“Read my lips Paul. Look past that “bedrock” to the “well done” tucked away at the end – those words: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Why do you always take that as an endorsement of your cleverness – that “Love is always the answer” – that you get a point for reciting the “right answer” in your “specialist subject”?”
The words I used were: “not far”.
How far is “not far” … how close to Me is “not far” … how near are you and I right now … and how connected are you and I?”
And – I love how He does this – the light begins to “switch-on”. The knowing begins to “know”. The affection and love in His voice and words so loving.
Lord, me and You? Right now – this second – in these private moments … connected! But publicly … seeing you in others … hearing you in others … talking to you in others like we are talking right now … ? So often I am NOT hearing, seeing or talking. So often I am “not far” – but VERY far. Because out and about so often … “not far” means still a hobby … a specialist subject … “not far” still means too much me and not enough you.
And then He points to the final sentence – the summation, the consequence: “After that no one dared ask him any question.” The words I see as “victory” – because I got it right: Love is ALWAYS the answer! Yay me!!
“That is not a victory Paul – not when fear gets in the way. Because if you think that closing down connection with cleverness is “a victory”… that makes me really sad.
The kingdom is not just you and me in these private moments. The kingdom is the air you breathe, the seconds you count, the strangers you meet, the friends you dismiss, the moments of your day in ALL that I bring you (and all that I do not). The kingdom is here – and the kingdom is real – right now – in every moment.
The kingdom is not work … not something you can put in your diary … not “just” when you are with others whose hobby is also “God stuff” … The kingdom “is” … all the time in everything.
Think about it: I can only love you – ALWAYS and without condition … you have to allow – ALWAYS and without condition. But “always without condition” means everyone and everything in every second of every minute of every hour of every day – always and WITHOUT condition.
So just how “not far” are you from my kingdom, Paul? Do you ALLOW me always and without condition?”