Personal responsibility. That concept we love to debate. The reality being closer to “it’s not my fault”. The compo culture:
“Have you been in an accident in the past 100 years? Has your flight been delayed in the past 20 years? Have you ever tripped on the pavement? Is there anything you have ever done in your life that could conceivably be the fault of another? Then we are the people to get your compensation for you – because someone is always to blame – and we can make them pay! (Acts of God excluded – obviously)”
When I was a wee lad the saying went that if you got into trouble at school, you came home and got into more trouble with your mum and dad. If the police had words, mum and dad would clip you around the ear for being naughty. I remember a few injustices in “that culture” – just as I see many in “this culture”:
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:1-13 King James Version
(I prefer the NIV usually, but I recall someone getting all tied up about the word “virgin” and whether there was “inappropriate behaviour” taking place – which is church-speak for “there might have been an orgy in the offing – but let’s pretend there wasn’t – and let’s keep our eyes on God here …”
“Difficult verses” – I love church-speak.
The label “virgin” was every (normal) female not yet married. Like as in the shock-horror of the unmarried-but-pregnant-with-Jesus Mary “normal female”. So ten unmarried ladies protecting the honour of the bride (who would already be “married” but still living at home) and the honour of each other … ?
Church-speak “sensitivities” over these verses can remain serene and unruffled)
Which brings me back to blame. Ten unmarried ladies and the ritual of a wedding and the freedom to have fun … ?
Ever been to a potluck party or bring-a-bottle gathering? Always amazes me how some bring the absolute minimum – but head straight for the good stuff and make it their own for the rest of the night. Not a thought for others left to consume the meagre gift they themselves brought (or didn’t). And these “guests” are usually the first to let it be known that the drink is running out (so someone had better get some – or we are out of here). Real life! We are all participants of the good, bad and ugly! And as real life is what Jesus lives – why would he ever need to embed church-speak innuendo in these parables for us to decipher (and if He doesn’t – why do we)?
Which brings me back to blame again. I see that compo (blame) culture prevalent today. It carries into church and God living.
(“real life” in church – who let “that” into our nicely polished Sanctuary?)
“Our salvation is someone else’s problem (we need a revival) – our growth in God is someone else’s job (we need a program) – our relationship with God is defined by our church (catechisms and creeds) – our attendance at said church also defined by others – our absence from church as well (both simply “guilt tripping” in my opinion) – our God is defined by others – and our God is defined as “owing me big” for all the “service” I have given … ” So when something “goes wrong”… ?
It is always someone else’s fault – probably “yours” – or “them” (as we call them in these situations). And where no obvious candidate can be found … ? Then just as the insurance industry says … it has to be God’s fault.
Except we are good Christians and we never judge and blame others in public. And we must NEVER blame God for anything! Ever!
So we use church-speak to blame (obviously): “God has a plan for each of us … the timing of these things is always in His hands … He sees and knows everything … God always works for good – so you must have missed His loving attention to detail …” And then the old fall-back when nothing else is “appropriate”: “We ask You to help us understand the mystery of Your ways.“
(which still means: “It’s Your fault – not ours – I didn’t even ask to be “created”!)
Ever thought that the “foolish virgins” are alive and well – and sitting in a church right now? Always them over there – never you or me (obviously).
I so love the alive and Living Word!