A post originally written and published on … The iMonastery: “God – You got it wrong” August 19, 2015
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”Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Dear fellow travelers, I come here with a backpack of curiosities. Let me lay them out here with tender care for your thoughts, your views, your love …
For last night I heard an odd phrase. It was on a bus in a car-park. One “Christian” telling me about another “Christian” … “Blah blah blah blah – and right now he is on a journey of faith.” As though they themselves, or I for that matter, had concluded our own journey successfully.
And then later that evening I also saw two “Christian” bloggers resisting each other in their own blogs. With some history of baring their teeth at each other in the past, it seems they now show their love by either ignoring each other, or by “not” baring their teeth. Which is quite civil, but still allows “seepage” – what I call “sniping”.
I have also been informed by other “Christians” that the reality of Unconditional Love is “nice” but not “enough”. As though somehow Unconditional Love is too “unconditional”, that it needs some backbone to be of any real benefit – which means, of course, a few rules to help things along – rules that let a chap know where he is – that keep things in order – which give perspective – keeps us all trundling along the same narrow path “together”.
I am curious.
My Lord and Father made things pretty clear in the bible: Love is the greatest direction I can give you. He went willingly to “that cross”: Love is the greatest gift I can give you. He willingly absorbs every bitter, twisted, depraved, perverted, trashy toxic excrement I ever have and ever will emit: My Love is always unconditional.
And despite all that … that appears to be “not enough”. We still need additional reassurance. The affirmation that “I am right”.
And the problem I am seeing more and more is that for me to be right – you either have to agree with me, or be wrong. It is one or the other. And when you agree with me – where is “unconditional love”? And where you disagree with me – then where is “ordinary love”? So “love” short-circuits and fizzles out (and “unconditional love” never gets a look-in).
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
We seem to have taken “self-denial” to heights never intended by our Holy Father. The self-denial of self-delusion. The delusion that somehow we must be right if “we” have found God. And the longer “we” have found Him, the better “we” understand Him. So the less time “you” have found God, the more “I” know and “you” don’t. So it is “my” job to keep “you” on the narrow path. And if “you” see a twist or turn “you” wish to explore, then it is also “my” job to police this stretch of narrow path and keep “you” from straying.
(and God help those who “found God” and now find they are finding a different God, a more personal God, a more living God – a God who is big enough for any and all questions. Those “Christians” aren’t really “Christians” at all! So we must insulate ourselves from them – for they will infect us and our purity for God – and they may take many of us “with them” as they crash and burn.)
Which takes the form of spoken and unspoken comments. Like “We have arrived (not like him – he has just found God)”. Like “I must love you (so I will snipe lovingly – your heart is in my crosshairs)”. Like “Love is all well and good – but where are the rules?”
This morning I came here with seventeen other verses I wanted to lay on the floor – verses He spoke through. Yet … “verses” … seem to be at the heart of this conundrum – simply another way of finding room for fault.
My fault that I haven’t been taught the right way to see what God really meant. Or that if I knew my bible properly, I would know that those other verses over there bring a totally different meaning … and we do it all over again … and again … and again … without even being aware we are doing it.
But I must unpack these verses. And if they speak to you in any way – that is His way – just as He spoke to me in His way:
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:8-16
(the passage is verses 1-16)
He drew me to this first:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.” verses 1-2
We “good Christians” have accepted eternal life with open arms. It is our salvation. We know that. We aren’t thick or stupid or missing a few grey cells – we are each perfectly created by Him. We each said “Yes Please Lord”.
“ … then they began to grumble against the landowner … ”
So why are we “good Christians” so protective of eternal life? Why are we so protective of salvation? Why are we in self-denial as the guardians of God?
Because that same “in-denial” misses the point that when we “grumble” about other “good Christians” – let alone the lost world, the poor folk yet to find God, the atheists yet to be struck dead by lightning, the Muslims who have missed the point completely, the perverts who sleep with their own kind, the women who dress in such a way as to cause men to sin, the …
(I actually get bored nowadays writing out the list of all those excluded – more and more angry – so very angry listing the many “manmade” categories)
It means that WE grumble not against each other – but WE grumble against God.
The very same God we profess to love, have given our lives for, have sacrificed so much, that we carry His heavy burden for Him, that we carry His heavy cross for Him … the God we love!
We tell Him – day after day – with our grumbling against each other:
“God – You got it wrong!”
I am curious.
How does that work?