Growing with God – can be so photo-shopped


I love looking at family photograph albums. There is something deeply connecting in looking at pictures glued to thick card pages, reading inscriptions and dates, turning pages and enjoying the continuity of family. Those haircuts, those clothes, those cars, those (absence of) gadgets, those yesteryear objects with which we filled our homes and living.

I look at those albums and then at the smartphone albums I have of our own family. Which is better? I look at the cars we used to drive, and then at the miracles of isolation we drive today. Which is better? I look at the clothes we used to wear and chuckle at how they become fashionable again – this time with the label “retro” – or “classic” – or “sixties” – even “chic” (although not my wardrobe).

Times moves on and stuff moves with it. We move with stuff and our stuff moves with us. Life never stays the same. Nor should it.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:12-18

Some of these verses are so retro, Paul. Even with all the re-purposing of the words and speech – it still reads as so yesteryear … “fear and trembling” … “a warped and crooked generation” … “I will be able to boast on the day of Christ” … “poured out like a drink offering” … They are your family photograph albums.  Pictures of moments framed and posed – stuck to a page.  Reflections of what was then but so not “what” today.

I find at times we seem to choose to be stuck in “a warped and crooked generation” mind-set.  We read the Word of God and travel back in time.  We revere and fear and tremble still.  We seek the mystery instead of the living.  We hold to the tradition and push away the present.  We gather together in preference to journeying with the unchurched.  We claim national faith and ignore personal faith.

I enjoy reading the bible.  I love connecting more deeply in the bible.  I see the Word of God as the word of God.  And I see today as not the bible.  I see today as my time and my moment and my snapshots with my different equipment in very different places and with different people.

What is the common thread? God Soft Hands Jesus.

The bible describes a journey. That journey in written form stopped 2000+ years ago. Your family albums begin no more than two or three generations ago. Far less “ancient” than the family bible. Yet I see so many today reading the bible and yearning for all that is in it.  Would you mind if I suggested there is a lot of “photo-shopping” going on today? All the wrinkles disappear … the cellulite is waved away … the baggy eyes are cropped … the muffin tops trimmed and thinned … That doesn’t come close to seeing things as they were – and really gets in the way of seeing things as they are now.

What is the common thread? God Soft Hands Jesus.

I read these verses in Philippians 2 and I see similarities. But I see “the sixties”. An imperfect time. Another time. A different place. Different people. And I choose not to dwell in my photo-shopped version of their time.  I choose to live my journey in my time with my people and my God Soft Hands Jesus.  My God Soft Hands Jesus is the only common denominator.  He offers love.  He offers freedom.  He offers comfort.  He offers forever.  And I find more and more the moments I spend with Him – the more and more I experience all of that.

What is the common thread? God Soft Hands Jesus.

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