I had no idea if (as a young child) I was brought up in the “traditional Christian way”.
As a child I think one gets on with whatever is presented. The world is flat. OK. The world is not flat like they say. OK. The world might be flat or not flat. OK, can I go and play now?
Just like love was never a big word in my life.
As a child I am not sure I knew what love was. We went to bed and had to be quiet (and stay in bed). We got up in the morning. We had breakfast and got dressed. We did stuff. We ate again. We did more stuff. We ate again and had a bath sometimes. And then it was bed and be quiet. Sometimes we, brothers and sisters, laughed. Sometimes we fought and sometimes we did neither. A lot of the time mum and dad were doing things elsewhere. Often they were around. It was “what it was” and it had always been that way. OK, can I go out to play now?
I know that I rejected the “Christian upbringing” that I had been brought up with.
But then I rejected many of the things I had been brought up with. I found stuff I believed in and thought important. And I left behind a lot of stuff I had been told was important but seemed less so in my growing life.
But in later life, when my parents were dying, I wrote them a short book of my childhood and (to my surprise) found it was a very happy time. I had no complaints. I realised as I wrote that book that I had been – and was always – very loved. And I saw so many more of my days had been filled with freedom than I had ever thought.
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.” Mark 1:14-20
We hear a lot of Christian stuff about being died for by Jesus aka God. I hear a lot about how it was necessary to save me. How if Jesus aka God hadn’t died for me I would deffo be “separated from God” (which is PC speak for “hell”). Death and blood becomes “grace” (which is PC for “saving” that I don’t deserve). “Worship and praise” is the result (PC speak for “obligation and debt”). And threaded throughout is “sin” (another word for “control”).
Has no theology of traditional “church” … has no death and sacrifice and blood and sin and saving.
Follow me just “is”.
It is getting up and doing stuff, and going to bed and staying put, followed by another getting up and doing stuff, followed by another …. Over and over again. Just like the sun comes up and goes down. Over and over again. It is a way of life. It is life. It is living with choice.
I now know that I was brought up with the institution of Christianity. The denominational face of church. The robes and creeds, the timings and responses. The bible and the daily verses. The qualified acceptance of a God that I had no right to judge or need to forgive or see as anything other than “in control”.
I rejected that God-structure-aka-religion-and-institution-and-faith-and-all-the-labels that need defining and debating. What became so much more important is …
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t know” allows me to be free.
And that (it seems to me) is the closest I get to knowing what “Follow Me” really means. Freedom to love each day. To decide each day if I still “follow” love (or not). To decide with freedom (and in freedom) where and who and how I love and when. Seems to me there is no greater truth than “my freedom”.
So this “I don’t know” is (for me) my chosen freedom.
And today I got up and decided that love is the way I am “following” today. And when I screw-up today (and I will), I will forgive myself (for that is the loving thing to do). Just as when you decide you have screwed-up (and you will) I will ask you to forgive yourself as well – it is the loving thing to do.
And if that gets confused in your head with “faith” and “indoctrination” and “religion” and “pseudo this and pseudo that” and all that stuff you BELIEVE is “wrong” (and feel the need to tell me I shouldn’t BELIEVE) …
That is what “freedom” looks like – we all get to choose what’s important to us.
No sacrifice required.