The more I am freed of defending the bible, the more I see the bible as something important. I could list many of the objections to the bible being “of God” … the edits, the committees, the politics, the proof, the lack of proof, the evidence, and the lack of evidence – and that is a small selection.
That used to be the most important thing for me: Defend The Bible – because the bible is God and God is the bible. And then all the hymns: Fight the good fight – Onward Christians soldiers – Stand up stand up for Jesus (putting Christians on a phony-war footing).
And all that stuff comes not from the bible – it comes with being saved and being a Christian – and being a Christian means church – and church means creeds – and creeds means duty and membership – and membership means …
And conforming means an ongoing weighing-up of my “integrity” against “for the good of the whole” – and “the whole” is the Body of Christ – and the Body of Christ has become The Bible … has become The Church … and (it seems) is now just one big muddled “God” tradition.
And I have found that the less I defend The Bible the less I fit. It has been suggested to me (more than once) that I just “need to find the right church”. I am not sure where that might be locally, and anyway – I already have.
This fine and beautiful world all around me … and this virtual congregation of attendees and absentees … of radicals and doubters … of venters and ranters … of the gentle and silent … of those here and those not here … Because this “church” is the most Honest and Challenging and Real “church” there ever could be.
And then I get “those looks” … blogging is a “hobby”, an “eccentricity”, a “solo activity” – so I “need” a “proper” church (I just need to find “the right one”). But …
THIS church brings tradition and insurrection … peace and war … right and wrong … fellowship and f**k-you-ship … this place has an honesty that would not work in any building with any membership and creeds of conformity. And the more I live in this church, the more I think the “right church” is so often in AND of this world (no matter what it preaches).
And the bible bit that sparked this little thought?
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
“Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
A leper – even a healed non-leper-any-more – had to be certified “okay” to rejoin society. Had to be passed off as clean enough. And that was the church’s job. The church didn’t so much heal as keep the unclean from The Clean. And that resonates today.
And he was a Samaritan.
The foreigner – the less-than-human-being foreigner (as enforced by the bible as the church as The God). Factual? I cannot defend “factual accuracy” – it seems much more a morality tale – because there are so many occasions where the “the evidence” doesn’t say who are the goodies – but redefines the creeds and conformity of just what is “a goody”. And that resonates today.
“Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
He was already an ex-leper. He could be passed off and rejoin society (and that would still label him as unclean by place of birth).
But THAT wasn’t IT either.
And that is why I love the bible – and this church – more and more!