Follow Me. I Am. Yes Dear.
I am about to write around 750 words in this post. It will be about my relationship with God Soft Hands Jesus. It will be about this morning’s verses. It will be about what GSHJ drew me to this morning. It will be wordy. Yesterday I did the same. The day before and the day before that as well.
Follow Me. Is a lot less words.
And in this morning’s verses He drew me towards something I struggle with in Church Life: the corporate layers of “I believe” in this and that and the other.
The “membership” of sect and denomination. The repetition of membership. The objection to questions because of my repeated membership beliefs. Church Life involves a lot of corporate beliefs (and if you disagree – try counting the words of the Creeds – any of them – they are a lot more than “Follow Me.” And now try unswervingly – and with absolute honesty – agreeing with every word of any creed).
I struggle with that “buy-in”. I struggle with that commitment to something (I see as) put together for “religion” rather than of God. Serving the purpose of man rather than God. Making me a member rather than a follower (or friend).
“At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.” Matthew 14:1-12
These were the “drew me to” words:
“The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison.”
Because of these words: “Out of regard for his oaths AND for the guests.”
That – for me – is in the same territory as the creeds. I am making an oath of my allegiance and my corporate belief. I make them with you and for you. And out of regard for my oath I will then agree – and disagree – with things (I should not). Things that (may) get in the way of “Follow Me”. I will compromise for the corporate body. I will take one for the team (and He will take one for the team as well).
Except no one asks Him usually. We do these things by a show of hands. By committee. By majority verdict. By corporate process. It’s quicker. Anything else would be chaos. And then where would we be?
Out of regard for his oaths.
I often wonder why that is so important in church life. Our promises. Our commitment. Our attendance. Our membership. Our contribution. Financially. Obviously.
Follow Me. Yes Dear.
Where in that invitation does God Soft Hands Jesus ever ask me to recite my membership oaths? Where in those words does GSHJ ever demand corporate compromise? Where in that invitation is there ever more than simple relationship? One that will fluctuate and change – will live and die and live again – that is real and living – that is unconditional love – that is eternal and universal.
I wonder … if anybody asked God what He thinks about religion, what He would say – whether He sees it as we see it. I wonder what He would say about church as we have designed it – whether He sees it as we see it. I wonder whether His answer would simply be: “Yes Dear.” I wonder if He would just smile and say: “Follow Me.”
Brings to mind that old saying: Be careful what you wish for.
Sounds a lot like: Be careful of your oaths and promises.