Death. This God stuff bible talks of death a lot.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.” John 12:24-26
The disciple whom Jesus loved – writing for gentile and jews and everyone alike: The Death of Lazarus … Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus … Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead … The Plot to Kill Jesus … Jesus Anointed at Bethany … Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King … Jesus Predicts His Death … Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews … Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet …
Yet life is talked of as well … To what shall I compare living and loving?
In this case one grain of wheat. Grown, picked and dried. Wheat keeps for ages but remains just one grain of wheat.
Or does it?
I worked in a grain store for a summer many years ago. 20 tonne lorries would arrive. With a great roar their loader would lift in a slow yawn and deposit a mini-mountain of wheat-smelling wheat. Then the next and the next and the next. We had a job of “walking the pile”. Wading through a now massive mountain full to the rooftops with a temperature probe to make sure there was no fermentation kicking off. Damp and heat and fermentation. Left by itself this mountain would come to life. Too hot, too damp – to life! So air was pumped in below underneath the pile and I walked the top of it.
We “seeds” will live whether we die or not. Whether we are in good soil, bad soil or no soil. We have life within us. All of these individual dry “lifeless” grains of wheat had life waiting to burst forth. And we kept them dormant with air underneath and me on top. They remained undead. Until they were gobbled up in huge mechanical shovels and put back onto another lorry and taken away. Some to become flour and bread, others to be planted and make many mini-me’s that would probably come back to our grain store in a year.
So I wonder whether all this talk of death we take too literally. Whether we take this talk of raising from the dead too literally. Whether we take this imagery and make it literal. So we can argue the imagery to death again.
Yesterday I was given a thought that Pharisees did not “believe”.
And I wonder this: As the guardians of much of the Old Testament … As the framework-keepers on which all the fulfilled prophecies are quoted … As the appointed-by-God keepers of the Chosen People’s spiritual lives … As the defenders of the faith … How can they NOT be “believers”? Just NOT “believers” we now say are “right believers”?
“The Pharisssssseeees” (pronounced with the extended hiss of a serpent).
What if that is just more imagery?
What if that imagery is intended to be an (imaginary) mirror in which we gaze upon (imagery) God and me standing side by side? What if we prefer to make that (imaginary) mirror a (imaginary) science laboratory? Make the imagery an (imaginary) petri dish experiment of (imaginary real) controlled-by-us-right-believers life and death? Make something that is (imagery) gazing into a mirror something (imaginary real) it was never intended to be.
How sure then in our (imagined) “right belief”?
What point then in this (real) acrimony of (imagined) judgement and (real) bile. Between (imagined) believers and (imagined) “not right believers” – between (imagined) believers and (imagined) “ex-believers” – between (imagined real) believers and (imagined real) “non-believers” …
Between this imagery made real and this real made imagery.
I don’t have the answers. I never will have the answers. But THAT has never stopped any of us believing in the things we believe. And THAT is why I believe in Love without Condition. And that is why I do not believe in “right belief and “wrong belief” or even “non-belief”. I believe Love sorts all that out without a fight. Because (real) love is not (real) fighting and (real) fighting is not (real) love.
Love without condition is simple. All truly are welcome if they are kind.
Just leave your (imaginary) weapons of belief at the (imaginary) door. Clothe yourself in (real) kindness. And together we (really) WILL find that we (really do) have more in common than in (imagined) difference.
And isn’t THAT the point of the bible?