The bible talks of numbers. Numbers of people saved, brought to the Lord, seeing the light, endowed with the Holy Spirit. And then talks of fractures and schisms. Of in-fighting and belief wars. Of hierarchies and meetings to decide policy and practice. Of creeds and constitutions.
Just like the Big Group.
Happy to “save” all 2.2 million of those receiving The Letter. Those like me. Those not like me. All that was asked was that we be kind to each other. Respect each other. That we were all in the same boat.
Life is not like that.
We are not all the same and we may be in the same storm for a short while but we tend to find our own little boats. Stuff changes every day. This virus and our own fear of it has. Some love being told to stay at home. Love the security of keeping their front door closed to the world. Others love the “sacrifice” they can claim to have made by not getting ill and not needing healthcare resources (that others less diligent than they will need). Others like to say they are keeping “the rules” and judge others for not – all the time breaking the “rules” which are inconvenient but not mentioning that right then. We change. Each day is new. Each moment offers choices. But so often it is easier to be the victim.
That we must because we have to – we had no choice.
So as the Big Group got bigger it needed, more and more “admins and mods” to regulate. A team who felt more and more themselves attacked and under-appreciated. That the good they had created was being diluted and changed and was no longer the thing they had created. And still the numbers went up. I see that in the bible as well.
The bible defines God – or attempts to. The Creeds and Constitutions define how we will regard God – or attempts to. The rules of the Big Group attempted the same. How we would regard “kindness and respect” because we all came from the same place. Except we didn’t. And we were certainly not all going to the same destination. We had arrived with one thing in common: fear of death. But living is a multi-choice pastime. There are so many different ways to live in each moment – let alone each day or week or month. I see that in the bible as well.
So the fighting got worse. People were hurt and left. Those who wanted to live inside for ever because that suited them – and those who wanted to come outside and live again because that is how we regard living. Both were hurt. Being attacked hurts. And through it all I sailed intact. Just as here in this blog world I have had almost none who tried to shred these words, so too in the Big Group. I have no idea why. Until I stepped over the line. A line that seems to be one where belief comes first and second and third.
I caught a cold and found I didn’t need a Covid test to “be kind”. I realised that I didn’t need to believe the bible as written and taught to know “God” as written and taught..
That’s why I wonder again whether church is really about “God”. Or more about correct belief first, second and third. I wonder again whether God really cares about belief as much as we care. Whether God thinks we are all in the same boat of belief – or whether that just gets in the way.
The bible I know AND the “God” I know is not rules. Not even the Ten Commandments.
Just like the rules of the Big Group. That needed policing and were frequently broken with all the disciplinary “consequences”. Kindness is kindness. Love is love. You are or you are not. I am or I am not.
No commandments or rules will ensure my compliance. Kindness and love is not compliance to someone else’s standard. That is conditional and transactional. A contract with clauses and get-outs and all the legal paraphernalia of The Law.
I see that in the bible as well.
The Big Group and Church have many parallels. One insists it is more than “that” – it is of God. The other says it is of “kindness” – not God because God gets in the way.
Both seek numbers to save. Both hold numbers as important. Both have rules and enforcement and consequences. Both claim that we are all flawed and therefore this is to be expected. One says only God can save us. The other says only kindness can save us. Both continue fragmenting and fighting.
Maybe the problem is our need for “God” or kindness to be what “we” need God or kindness to be for “us”. Except then we need belief and rules and enforcement and consequences and something else …
To be “right” – to have the “correct beliefs” – to belong.
Just like the Great Commission.