You and I have journeyed and still do. You have called me many things in that time and still do. You have kneeled and recited, bowed and chanted, reclined and conversed, stood and looked through me, walked beside and behind and in front, you have strayed and explored, you have been a servant, a soldier, a companion and a friend. You know me and I know you. And this morning I sense your question: “What is the difference between “the Lost World” and “the Saved World” – is there a difference – should there be a difference?” Am I wrong?
You know me – and I think I know you: “There is no difference. There should be no difference. Love is Love is Love. Find Love – know Love – be Love and we are as One.” That is, I think, is your answer.
You know me and I know you. We are both beyond the bible. Both bible-blind. Both of Love. Why do you still doubt yourself?
Because I seem to be journeying so far from others who journey with you. Others who gather together. Others who read the bible, study the bible, know the bible. The bible seems to “be you” for so many – and yet for me is no longer. And with that the absence of need for so much – the need for sin, the need for saving, the need for worshipping, the need for praise, the need for forgiveness, the need for … for all that goes with the “Biblical You” … you’re so much more.
Do you remember being seven years old – your birthday – your father taking you into the sitting room early that morning – giving you your own bible – your own study notes – showing you how to study and reflect and pray?
And did you ever think then that we would be remembering “then” all these years and living later?
And even if it were possible to know – would it have changed anything do you think?
I have no idea.
So why do you now doubt yourself? What is doubt other than predicting the future without knowing what the future will bring? You did not doubt yourself at seven years old – why doubt yourself now? Is it because “now” you have been taught and tested. You have churched and walked away. You have friends who revere the bible, enjoy the worship, validate the praise, need the forgiveness. Friends who are older and younger than you. Who have walked with me as long or longer than you. Who are “figures” of responsibility and maturity and accountability in the church. That place you know only as “church the institution”. That all know as “church” by one definition or another.
Do you know the problem with the bible? Of course you do. I see it clearly in you … “The bible is stuck in time. We do not see or hear “Jesus” teaching that changing … “You have seen it written but I say … “ any longer. Because if we did … just how much of “the Gospels” would we have to rethink today … ?”
Yet look at us both right now.
All we are doing – all we have ever done – is the “you have seen it written but I say” stuff. And yet it’s not enough for you. You still need. You need others to think the same as we do this morning – as we recline here – chew the fat here – say stuff you don’t hear said in church. You need this to be said in church for you to feel welcome there. You still need, Paul. Except that being bible-blind is to lose that need for others to agree.
Read the bible and see how much I was listened to in church. Me – “The Man” – everyone was waiting for (just not as they told it in church). Me – just not as the same me they saw in the bible. Me – “the Man” … who was not listened to … who said stuff that was not said in the church of institution.
Now church is whatever you want it to be. All of it “biblical” one way or another. All of it seeking me. All of it sharing Love (maybe) even if only for an hour (or less). “Church” is you. Believe that – for it is true. Church really is all of you. And because of that – here is the kicker …
I do not care whether you connect with Love in the moment as described in the bible or the Huffington Post. I do not care whether you find Love in church or the local pub. I do not care whether you think yourself Muslim or Christian or Hindu or Atheist or traditional or modern or gay or sad or any label at all. You are you and are of Love of not. Love is Love is Love. And Love is not defined by any “correct” label (or any correct place).
So be bible-blind and do not doubt – gather with me alone or with many – gather in church services or nowhere at all.
You ARE church. You ARE you wherever you are – wherever you go – and whoever you are with or not. So if church is you – then all that “must” and “should” and “ought” is also you.
Just not me.