I was sent a link for a bible study. A short video of a few verses from Mark. Nothing unusual in that you say – bible study is bible study. We all do it. But this was The Archbishop of Canterbury talking about The Bible! The Archbishop – the head of the Anglican church – the man who speaks for God – that Archbishop. And he was accompanied by the Archdeacon of Hackney. That is Church hierarchy! That is celeb stuff! That is Church bigwigs! That is something I should listen to! And I did!
Here is the video – click the link and see what you think.
The title of “Archbishop of Canterbury” means we usually see Justin Welby on national television. We see the Head of the Church at major state occasions. Could be any faith. We see the pomp. The role. The image. The holiness. The righteousness. The saintliness (!!). We see an “it” that can never be “us”. We see “the bubble.”
So I was left with one Big Thought after watching this …
“That was very ordinary!”
I thought the two of them missed a few points (!!) – I thought they were trying to teach – I thought they were working too hard at looking at ease – were aware of their titles and their words – that we all look to them for “spiritual guidance” – that we would listen to them for spiritual guidance. And I thought ALL of that got in the way of them “hearing” God as much as they could have heard God. No matter what they said about “anybody can – honest!” That is so ordinary. That is so us.
I saw no more insight, no more “wow”, no more anything than any of “us” would share together – no more than any of us would “hear” in the bible (if we allow) – and that neither he nor she are any “closer to God” than any of us who have a relationship with God. These two people – the bigwigs of the Church Hierarchy – are no different to you or me. They are so ordinary.
You and I could sit on a sofa with a bible in our hands, a camera pointing at us, both looking uncomfortable, very aware of how we “look and sound”, the sound of a dog barking in the background, someone “doing the media” (who is SO not a professional)!
The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to God than you or me.
(BUT … just the title “The Archbishop of Canterbury” oozes holiness, righteousness, better than us-ness, closer to God-ness, celeb-ness and distances “us” from that bubble. So do I really live all that “head stuff” I teach and preach?)
“PAUL!!! The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to God than you are.”
This was His message for me: “The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to God than you are. The “celeb bubble” is your mentality – never Mine – always yours.”
And with that thought rattling around my brain …
How do we REALLY feel about the disciples? The twelve who became eleven. Those celeb preachers. The ones who we elevate. How do we really feel about the “names” we share and discuss? The names we go and see just to be in their presence? All the “bubble stuff” we deny time and time again. Are we the same as them? Are they the same as us?
Do we REALLY believe we and them are all just “us” – that “they” are no closer to God than you and me – that we hear God no differently – that we and they ARE the same (and always have been)?
Someone told me this: “He only ever asks one thing: “Follow me.””
That is the great leveler – that is the best “All Are Welcome”! That invitation has no relevance to the bubble or any of that stuff. That invitation means we ARE all one in one of One. That invitation says there never has been a “them and us”.
So unless I can be that ordinary …
Just how will I ever get out of the way of God and let Him work through me? How will I ever believe I am as “special”? And how can I ever be what He intends for me – and you – and him and her over there?
The Archbishop of Canterbury is no closer to “God” than you are. Nor the “disciples” nor the Apostles nor the Saints nor the Prophets nor the Popes nor the “Church royalty” nor the religious dynasties nor any of the “but they must be – surely” that you idolise.
Now who do you believe: you – or Me?