What if …
We don’t own God. Or the bible. Or all the creeds and commandments. All the “I believes”. What if God was never meant to be owned. Not as we as “Christians” claim ownership.
I ask because I have seen the power of love. Love without condition. Without transaction. Without purpose or meaning or anything other than “love”. Love that is because love is or is not. I have seen the power of love’s healing. Love’s energising. Love’s making whole again.
I see that in the bible. I see that in God.
A love without condition. Without transaction. I see people healed. People made whole. In a moment. A second. A fleeting something that is not linked with before or after. That has no consequences of “good behaviour”. No insistence that I will believe as you tell me to believe. I see in the bible Love not religion. I see Love not a God who can be owned and managed. A God who does not insist we fall to our knees each week and ask for forgiveness. Nor a God who requires me to go the Big Doors in contrition and humility.
I see a God who is Love first, second and last.
And I have seen the same Love heal a wounded soul without any reference to God or the bible or religion. I have seen Love heal. And I wonder if we make God small with our insistence on the “I believes”. Our insistence on “the bible”. Our insistence we know God.
Love that heals as God heals needs no “Forever and ever, amen”. Needs no permanent connection of belief and creed. Love heals so the healed soul can be free to live again. A living that – if free – will be the decision of that one single soul without any debt to me who Loved. And yet I see that expectation on church. An expectation of gratitude (or debt to call a spade a spade). I was saved so I owe someone – God, you, your congregation, the bible, the Jewish nation … I owe someone or something for my salvation. And so I must behave a certain way.
Hello religion and church. The Love I saw heal also saw those souls healed vanish from my life.
Isn’t that how it should be?
If I truly Love Without Condition isn’t the power of Love freeing me to be who I am, who I can be, who I will be? Free to think freely. To behave freely. To go and come freely. Isn’t that What Jesus does in the bible? And if Jesus is God then God does the same. And if the bible is our way to God then the bible must also. I cannot own God nor can you own me and my gratitude. The early church is full of that. The bible says, God says, we say. And the fallings-out. The if you read the bible correctly it really says this not that. Which means God means that not this. Here is a creed. Learn it and recite it and you will be correct in your belief. We own God because we know what God is and what God wants. He wants your gratitude, praise and worship. You have been saved so you must want all that as well. That is the transaction. That is Love with Condition.
That I was taught is Love Without Condition or transaction.
I have been in Facebook these past months. I have seen the power of Love. Love without Condition or transaction or God as taught. It is closer to the God I see in the bible than anything I have seen in church or religion. Love without condition has no claim. Has no debt. Has no right. Has no What About Me. Love heals. And frees.
Church is the place I was taught to find God. Never Facebook.
But what if …
As ever, Paul, some thought provoking stuff. Thank you.
However, I do agree with your first paragraph.
While certainly we cannot own God or the meaning behind the bible (the actual words have, over the years, included all sorts of human error in translation). On the other hand, I think we do own the creeds. These have been written, with the best of intentions, to clarify the common ground of our understanding of God for arguing factions. Too often they have now become restrictive and a simply a list of what we must believe to be a ‘real’ Christian. I wonder whether you might even agree with that point, because I see you expand what you mean about God and the bible, but not the creeds!
Another potential confusion is that the phrase they nature of God’ really means two things: (1) the actual, full and perfect ‘nature of God’ as he actually exists; (2) my understanding of ‘the nature of God’. The latter, like many if not all areas of my knowledge is incomplete and full of misunderstandings and downright errors. This ‘God’ I do own. The first definition, I don’t .
Without dismissing the tragedies and upset that folk have suffered, recent months have had a significant impact on many folk’s faith. Those essential ‘pillars’ of our beliefs – like church attendance, have taken away, and folk have discovered that God is even more closely with them. Perhaps a silver lining of the Covid cloud is that God has been allowed to escape from being imprisoned in churches. It would be refreshing if this does not evaporate as and when the ‘new normal’ becomes established.
Hope all is well with you and your family.
Blessings, my friend.
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Interesting comments Keith, thank you. As always, the need to agree on details is always an invitation to debate. All I know is that I have been exposed to more love without condition in a place renowned for infighting (Facebook I mean – although it also sounds a lot like church!) than I ever thought was possible.
Interestingly where disagreements happened (as in church) they were always to do with “being right” or “wrong” (hello more parallels!). My little sojourn into Facebook has left me seeing little difference between FB groups and Church. Which does leave me wondering exactly why Church claims God as it’s own and the world (Facebook) in need of God.
As for the absence of “in-person worship” (yeuch!!!!) I love your words. As for the small absence of hope in that paragraph (“It would be refreshing …” ) – wouldn’t it be great if that was never even a thought?