Life is cyclical.
The sun comes up and goes down and comes up and goes … Birth gives way to death gives way to birth gives way to … Happiness gives way to sadness gives way to happiness gives way to … Plenty gives way to lean gives way to plenty gives way to … Energy gives way to sleep gives way to energy gives way to …
Just as faith gives way to fear – just as fear gives way to love – just as we all get to choose the something(s) we “give way to” in our own journeys of living and loving.
Maybe that is the definition of “being saved”.
Giving way to something for something else – for someone else. Which is the definition of love as well. Marriage is the giving way of “me me me” to “you us me”. Which is how I hear “being saved” described as well.
Jesus came at a time when the temple industry was at its peak. A rule for everything you could think of – and then some more for those you couldn’t. A property portfolio still revered to this day. A sacrifice industry that kept many in comfortable living. A calendar of festivals and high points all in worship of the One True God. The One True God who, the bible says, walked and talked and healed and connected 2000 years ago. One who was spurned in favour of the established temple industry’s established version of the “One True God”.
Now the bible might be historically accurate or it may not – but is it just me who sees the “cyclical cycling” as though that walking had never happened?
Today another “temple industry” is established and thriving – except now we call it “church”. Another property portfolio worth billions … another “head office culture” focused on its own survival … another sacrifice industry embedded in the culture of being a Good Christian – expect today we call it “tithing and attending and volunteering and serving and obedience”. Or else why talk today of the being a Christian as sacrifice – as burden – as “carrying a heavy cross for Him”.
Has anyone ever thought the “second coming” (that I so often see written of as “me me me – take me, in your name I ask (obviously”)) might be followed by the “third coming” … and a “fourth coming” … and … ?
Because I keep reading that we should see God in the homeless. That the smelly, scruffy and aggressive chap sitting in a shop doorway is Jesus – and “church” keeps rejecting Him – that the church doors are not open to this Jesus smelling of urine and sweaty clothes never washed …
Well nor is it open to many.
Not unless you “fit” – just as you needed to fit the temple industry 2000 years ago. Not unless you have been “authorised” by the church as you would have been by the temple industry. Just as “same gender relations” are yet to be “authorised” universally by the “church industry”. Just as then a temple industry which worked hand in fist with the political powers of the day – now a “church industry” that works hand in fist with the heads of government. Then a temple industry that had splinter denominations – now so many church splinterings it is an art form.
What would a homeless Jesus find in church that he would really want – other than maybe an immediate hot meal, hot shower and fresh clothes – before moving out and on again? Then the Good Samaritan – now charitable agencies.
These are all generalisations of course.
I was asked recently if there were many “good Pharisees” in Jesus’ day. Looking around today I would answer that “yes there must have been”. Just as there are many good Christians today. And yet …
There is a real preference for “property portfolio”, for planned and prepared “worship”, for a controlled and controlling “freedom” of membership, and a consistent reluctance to “walk in faith” (unless the end goal can be clearly seen and I know I/we can achieve and sustain that change-ministry-new thing).
Life is cyclical.
Yet I thought the reason for “being saved” was to break that cycle. To find something new and eternal – something that changes me today and all day and every day thereafter. Something called “love – the new way”. Not a gold standard – not even a checklist of rules and obligations … just that interlude between the Old Testament and the Early Church.
The bit we are told to proclaim as “The Good News.”
(before we wrap our fish and chips in it soon after)