We are planning a trip later this year. From experience I find myself checking the details well in advance. Prices fluctuate – “big data” now means even searching a route can increase prices … seats bought early … the dates on which flights are being searched … all of that data becomes “big data”. And then something called “algorithms” crunches the “big data” without a human hand or eye involved and I see higher (or lower) prices.
And then there is the airport on the day.
The security control queues going out – and the border control queues coming back in. I always think those two experiences are an indicator of how a country is working for the little man (or woman). And our experience is that our country has little regard for the little man (or woman). Our little man’s (and woman’s) time is of no consequence to those who “serve us” by running things on our behalf. Austerity economics over the past decade(s) means no one really cares any more. Everyone feels they “are owed” for simply doing their job … in a culture with more and more cuts … and for “customers” who are less and less patient.
Hello “Fast Track”.
For a small fee we can queue-jump and speed through the mayhem and despondency of the long snaking frustrated quietly seething zillion expectant “customers” exactly like us. The Fast Track small print has a load of get-out clauses – no guarantees of any speedy anything. But the BIG BOLD HEADLINE SALES’ promise is that “speedy” will be effortlessly delivered (and if not – effortlessly covered by all the get-out clauses).
“Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades] will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19
There are 11 instances of “my church” in the New Testament (NIV) – and this is the only occasion attributed to Jesus.
Pop in just “church” and 114 examples come back (NIV). This time just one more attributed to words spoken by Jesus (and also just in Matthew). Which means 112 are not – and means the other Gospel writers miss out “church” completely.
Church today, for me, has parallels with the Chosen People back then – wrapped in exclusivity and rules – with the rules being rewritten when too much “inclusivity” crept in. The rules may have been taken to another level by Jesus – but mankind always prefers to have the last words – and the last words are called “rules”.
I think “Being Saved” has parallels with Fast Track.
A queue-jump delivered effortlessly. Simply pay a small fee (tithe), and turn up at the allotted hour (each Sunday), and obey the rules of worship and commitment (religion). And if “the saving” turns out not to be all that was promised or expected – then that is covered by the small print – the rules. And all one needs to do is to read the rules better – to understand what God means. And if that doesn’t convince?
“You just need to find the right church – we are always here if you need us.”
Sound cynical? Perhaps.
But this stuff is as personal as Fast Track – just with one difference. Fast Track is for one short moment of my life. It is of little consequence a week before or a week later. Fast Track is only relevant the next time we are thinking of flying. And I know I am paying good money to queue-jump for just those few moments.
But “being saved” … ?
That is a life change for all time. Not a job (of which I have had several). Not an epiphany (which is a moment). More like getting married or having children – which invites me to change (and keep changing) every day of my life thereafter – which has no rules that solve much (despite google telling me otherwise).
Sunday … Fast Track day.
The standard church day of the standard believer’s week.
Why will you be/been there … why go at all … what is the reason … who says you should … and why do you agree … ? But more than all that …
Why is “church” such a focal-point in a “believer’s” life? Because if it isn’t …
Why the pressure to attend today?