I think we have all bought in to the bad news culture. The “instant news” anywhere in the world instantly beamed into our lives through tv, radio, media, print and gossip. We are each the recipient of the world’s woes. And we see a world bereft of goodness. And we cry out to Godness. Save us from this tribulation! We wave our bibles. “See it is prophesied!” We wail our wail. “Save us from this torment dear Lord!”
We are truly in this world AND of this world!
Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 3:1-6
As an “instant news bite” there is a lot of “human interest” in this one …
The “they” of menace and conspiracy. The “Jesus” of innocence and bravery. The “convenient anonymous prop” handily awaiting his centre-stage moment. Then the stand-off. Then the good v bad. Then the magic. And hey-presto: the baddies are painted black and the Godness is painted white.
It ticks all the boxes.
I was reading a post on WordPress today that lamented the absence of compassion and forgiveness in this world. The bible verses offered simply confirming our baseness without Godness. The verses (always?) telling us to get our act together: to be the better person – to get God and get a life.
And when we get God?
I have to walk this “desert” – have to travel the” hard path” – have to find the “narrow gate” – that I may be the one who will meet my God and find my God does not recognise me – and I will be cast out forever if I am not the right stuff. Woe is me – even after I am saved (seems to be the common message).
I think that is self-indulgent crap.
It prompted me to consider how many times in my own life I have done something I regretted. Left something somewhere. Said something to someone. Didn’t say something to someone. Was desperate for help. Was convinced there was no help. Convinced no one understood. Convinced no one ever would.
And found strangers who did.
Strangers without a name who helped. Strangers I never met again who stepped forwards and then back again and carried on with their own lives. Strangers who became real people for a few seconds, a few minutes, even a few days. But who then stepped back again and I never knew them.
And in each case there was no bible, no verses, no Godness – simply a wealth of overflowing goodness.
It convinces me I really do live in a world FULL of love AND compassion AND forgiveness and goodness … If I allow.
And with those eyes and these verses?
I see a stranger (I could call “Jesus” that stranger). I could make my life fit these verses (and become the chap with the withered hand). Or I could see myself as “Jesus” (stepping forwards when needed and then back again when not).
Or I could live in the real world without the Gospels clasped tightly (as Jesus did) and simply be the Gospels.
Be the very thing I “follow” (on a Sunday). Be the very thing I preach (when given the chance). See the very thing I miss so often (as I walk with my head down and this “desert” before me). A world of love of compassion and forgiveness and goodness – stuffed full of strangers who step forwards and then back again – who fill my world with the beauty of their selflessness. And who never mention God or the bible or the verses that say this is how I should behave.
They are amongst us. And this world is not goodless or Godless. And it is okay to put down my bible. To see the world though the eyes of love rather than instant verses.
And learn how “to allow” … love.