I love imagery

My dad used to be a travelling salesman.  His title was “rep” or “representative”.  But what he did was travel to potential customers to try and sell them stuff that my dad’s company made.  As a young child I never had any idea what dad sold or what companies he worked for.  But I remember this – something he told us … 

That when he went into a factory and asked for the boss, he had found the boss could be the least “boss looking” of all. The boss could be the dustiest, dirtiest, busiest “factory worker” there.  So my dad had discarded the assumption a “boss” would be the one with a tie and shirt – the one in an office with a computer.

I remember my dad telling us that because it is true of life.

This morning on a site dedicated to the Living Word I read this:

“Something to think and pray about this week

During high school we were told—warned really—that when we left the school grounds in our uniforms, when we wore them at Friendly’s restaurant after school or while on a field trip, we were representing Cathedral High School, that how we behaved while wearing these uniforms represented the larger group of students. Which makes me wonder: what about the clothes I don’t wear, but still hold on to; what do they say about me?

In Colossians, we’re told to clothe ourselves with love, over everything else, over whatever styles we’re wearing, over whatever ways we’re seeking to define or distinguish ourselves. Like a less itchy and less tangible version of a school uniform, this love unites us. And the way we wear that love represents the larger group of Christians. It is up to each of us to make it unique in the way we live out that love—the spiritual version of wearing goofy socks and homemade jewellery—but this love must have at its core the same basic pieces. “They will know we are Christians by our Love,” we are told. But only if we wear it well.”
– Excerpted from Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber Lynch

A few years ago as a travelling Christian I agreed with every word: we are clothed with love – we are to wear it well – and by love they will know I am a Christian.

In the last few years I have questioned that belief.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”” John 14:6-7

God Soft Hands Jesus, GSHJ, is my seeing and my knowing.  A GSHJ who does not fit neatly into any version of any bible.  A GSHJ who cannot be contained within a creed.  A GSHJ who has no need of a uniform.  A GSHJ who does not demand or expect.  A GSHJ who does not wait until I fulfil a checklist of requirements and am “saved” before loving me without condition.  A GSHJ who sees me for who I am … who I was … who I could be … who I want to be … who I don’t want to be – and all the confused stumbling and stop-start-living-and-loving I am so expert at.  A GSHJ who – I find more and more – is not interested in how often I go to church – how many bible verses I can recite – how often I am dutiful – whether I “worship” or not – how many sinners I save – how much I tithe …

That is not “knowing” at all.

That is a Christian checklist – a Christian need – a uniform – an outer layer – something I can put on and take off.  And – I find more and more – not only something that keeps me from those who do not believe the same but also the very “Christ” in Christian that my “uniform” demands I follow.

I love imagery.  Unless it keeps me from the thing it is describing.

Then the imagery becomes the reason and “the thing” is lost.  Then we see and follow neat, tidy, and pretty things – and know nothing much at all.



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