Those that live by the sword die by the sword. I grew up with that saying. There are lots of sayings – like “fight for with fire” – or “a stitch in time saves nine”.
I was told in my younger years that we each have a preference for “hearing our own communication” – we have a preference for one of three ways: words like a list (a logical sequence), words that are sensory (feel, prickly, soft, etc), or words that are visual (looks like, picture this, etc). We may use more than one – but we veer towards one. Since that training course I have sometimes tried that “knowledge” when someone I love is struggling. But when we are both passionate about something – being “conscious” about anything at all is a big ask!
Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.” Matthew 23:23-26
Pharisees. Scribes. Educated. Law. Stewards of religion. Custodians of truth. Teachers to “them” who are clueless. Guardians of God. The jobspec includes all the finery of pomp of privilege. How would they know who was who if we didn’t? We human beings are God’s creations – given authority over every living thing (including those who should know better and need to be told). And more than that – we are the “Chosen People” God’s creations. So we need rules. Loads more rules than ordinary creations because we have no wriggle room for getting it wrong. Getting it wrong would make us ordinary creations.
So what’s this “gnats and bugs” all about… ?
Us (historical and no longer relevant) custodians of Truth use muslin to strain the wine we drink just in case any bugs have got into it (they always do you know – just like “sin”). And bugs are unclean. And we have a Law for that. No bugs – or camels! Camels are also unclean. The Law says so (no “divided hoof” you see). Isn’t this great? Just where would we be without rules?
And here comes Jesus, who knows language (and the rules) better than the God custodians and enforcers. The ones who keep themselves – and everyone else – pure for God. Who have been given that responsibility. That is the Law. And today, we so often read the bible and cheer for Jesus – and jeer at the enemy: the Pharisees and scribes.
And today, so long as we can kidnap just the bits that fit from the bible – obviously – then the bible IS the Way and The Truth and the Light – and we are God’s people – the Chosen People – and we have to keep God safe from them – the bible says so – those are the …. (hmmm …!)
I think more and more that no matter the “language” we prefer – there is something much more important. And that is our ability to make anything “fit”. Because language always changes (gnats and camels took some googling). But making stuff “fit” …
Doesn’t the very universal of “making things fit” also exclude any awareness of us “making things fit” – because that doesn’t “fit” at all. Because as soon as we think we have a choice, making things fit looks silly. Makes it a choice. A choice to be silly.
And that for me is why the bible must ALWAYS be The Living Word. Because when I make things fit without awareness – when I have to take out and discard “love” – when I must take out relevance to me – when I make the bible something it never was – then obedience and order is THE way – you doing what we say is THE way.
And if we cannot make that a universal – then we can certainly can with our own flocks. Because every lost sheep needs a shepherd – and here I Am, Lord – send me (that’s in the bible). And I know the bible and I can tell these sheep how things are! But just look at the building they expect me to live in, to worship in, to be their shepherd in! Run down, shoddy, ill maintained! Do they not realise how that makes me look … how that makes them look … how that makes God look?
The living God I see in the living bible allows all these choices. Which is weird …
Our “God” never would and never does. Our “God” needs order and obedience. So if our God is “The One True God” we all bang on about …
Is that why we insist all this “love-stuff” is never enough – that we really do need all the … (crap!!)