Apart from Jesus, the bible peeps seemed to hold down employment and generate their own income. I read of their wanderings, their teaching, their (seemingly) full-time focus on active ministry. And I have always wondered where they found the time to work – and was the claim actually legitimate: “I have never been supported by you, I have never been a financial burden to you.”
And yet reading the wealth of “ministry” blogs available here, having dabbled with being a trainee lay-preacher, having been surrounded by – and written of – the (church) volunteer “diary culture” … I guess not much has changed in 2000+ years. What we see now is not so different to what it was then.
As much as I read, Jesus was supported by a circle of movers, shakers and fixers. And without a denominational structure or buildings portfolio, I guess the financial needs and daily running costs were fairly low-key – executive travel / accommodation (along with fine dining) don’t figure in the Gospels.
Which has always prompted a question …
If Jesus changed the “religious landscape” forever – why has the consequence been a replica of that which he changed?
A merger of faith with the interests of the secular so entwined it is now and forever called “religion”. A structure of religion wherein change is to protect “the structure”. A structure of religion that – 2000+ years ago – was picked-apart by the very Jesus these structures of religion have grown to promote. Structures and a religions promoting the following of the one who picked them apart. Picked apart because they were far from unconditional love and compassion.
Today the “church” seems to spend most of its time and energy either clarifying why things should be as they are – or catering to the many different theologies and preferences that always lead to compromise and fudging of important “faith issues”. Fudging to maintain the “whole” – to protect the structure and institution – to be “inclusive” (by being exclusive). The creed seems increasingly used as a “Come on chaps – we all believe this don’t we?” A creed that controls belief but makes no mention of love.
And I read how “faith” is on the up in loads of places – the inference being God cannot be defeated. And as for the emptying of churches in other places … ? Well that just shows that there is a revival of “proper faith” and that “traditional faith” might just have to die a death for “proper faith” to live.
And I hear another voice. An inner voice. A voice that sighs with hope and frustration. A sigh of eternal and unconditional love.
I am not affiliated with any denominational or structural church. And in that I have found immense freedom to grow. The bible has become fun. The writings have become real. The factual and inerrant now irrelevant. The dogmas and creeds no longer something I have to pay lip-service to simply by attending a certain style of worship in a certain style of building with a certain style of people.
For some that means I have lost my “faith”. For others it means I should leave this “pretend faith” and come down on the side on those who have also left their faith. For many I should fit one or the other and should, therefore, make up my mind where I really belong. And for some of faith I seem to stimulate a re-thinking of their I Am – and I love those gentle conversations and wide-ranging wanderings. Because ..
(and this next bit might be labeled blasphemous)
… that again reminds me of Jesus. He belonged to no “sides” – he spanned boundaries and rules. And yet was expected by each “side” to fall into line and to belong to one or the other. And didn’t.
Am I becoming like Jesus?
Because the early church “got” (what “religion” now calls) “The Great Commission”. The early leaders of the early church continued their wandering and the word “ministry” soon became a noun. And the early churches grew and squabbled. So the early leaders exerted and enforced control through teachings. And then in some places persecution drove it underground. And then the secular world-ruling Empire found it convenient to propose marriage. And “religion” was reborn and argued with itself ever-more.
I may be missing something here …
But doesn’t anyone have a sense of deja-vu?