If you’re stuck at the sign, always looking where it points, never moving past it or following its direction, you will make no progress.
You will be stationary.
(In this post I’m sharing some thoughts with my Christian brothers & sisters. With Pastors, Priests & Reverends who lead these communities. With ordinary people who, with great commitment, attend Sunday Services & Wednesday Groups and Tithe & pray.)
The song has been swirling in my heart this past week. Since Saturday when I had the pleasure of sharing in a ‘Theological Discussion’ with people like Derek Morphew, Dave Pederson & Wouter van der Westhuizen.
It is the words of that irregular Being who once sat on a hillside, revealing the way.
‘But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval, as stuff that makes a great difference, then all these things will be added to you.’ (Matthew 6:33)
As I read the story, told by Matthew, I see these words are shared in the context of people’s anxiety.
In the context of our fear that we won’t have enough.
That we may suffer lack.
‘What we will eat or drink.’
This irregular Being suggests we do not have to fret a single moment about them.
They will be added.
And I don’t think there is any ‘if’ in the way shown.
‘If’ you focus on, then they will be added.
I hear a simple: ‘don’t worry about it’.
Which is great, because a great deal of our energy is spent on worrying about it.
This post, however is not about ‘worry’ & the confidence with which we can live, knowing that the Divine Creator is intimately aware of us & involved & lovingly taking care of our basic need for food & drink.
This post is about the possibility that we may be stuck.
‘Seek first the kingdom of God’, some older translations say.
And then I hear these words, from someone else, who might have lived in connection to the Divine Creator: ‘God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.’ (2 Timothy 1:7)
Perhaps his words are existential.
Confessed from experiencing the absence of fear & the presence of ability & love & good judgement.
Somewhere else this same man suggests: ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear … the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.’ (Romans 8:15)
And also: ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.’ (Galatians 5:22)
And: ‘For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.’ (Ephesians 5:9)
Perhaps we’ve gotten stuck at the sign?
If all of this is true?
Could it be that we’ve gotten so stuck on ‘Scripture’ (the sign or revelation), that we spend our days, sitting in its shadow, contemplating where it points, talking about it, debating it, being in disagreement – we’ve not moved beyond the revelation, into ‘seeking’ or living in the Spirit of the Divine Creator?
My friend, Wouter reminds me of the words of a man called James: ‘Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ (James 1:26 & 27)
James speaks of moving beyond the sign.
Of actually venturing out in the direction in which it points.
Could it be that we’ve gotten stuck?
As leaders of Christian Communities?
Perhaps there could be a flow?
That as we move beyond the sign, in the direction it points (seeking this Spirit, in us) that we will be transformed & spill into our world.
Maybe that is the ‘deception’ of which James speak?
That we say we are ‘religious’ yet nothing spills from us into our world?
A deception of ourselves?
That if we were to be connected to the Divine Creator, if His Spirit were to be in us, that we would be love, kindness & generosity?
That if we were to be connected to the Divine Creator, if His Spirit were to be in us, that we would be filled with happiness & care for people?
Perhaps, if we’d move beyond the sign (Scripture), seeking His Kingdom, we would not be able to stop ourselves & instead of building Churches, we’d build schools & hospitals?
Instead of buying sound equipment & digital projectors, with which we create stunning easily digestible experiences, we would not be able to stop ourselves & rather create old age homes and shelters for vulnerable mothers?
‘But we do!’, some may say.
We have a babies haven.
We have a feeding scheme.
We have a school.
But do we really?
If our school is only accessible by the wealthy?
Or if our feeding scheme & babies haven is run with corporate donations & a pittance of the resources generously given by good people?
On Wednesday night, as we’re washing dishes, my eleven year-old daughter says: ‘church gives you a chair, expects you to sit and listen, then rewards you with some tea. I wish they’d give you sweets, tea is such an adult reward.’
Perhaps prophetic words from an affected soul, from a being in whom the Spirit has spilled abundantly?
I wish she’d said: ‘church changes the world, creates education for people who can’t afford it, medicine for sick people, hope for despondent people.’
For then church would’ve been known as a community who’d become unstuck.
Won’t you consider the possibility that we are stuck?
Won’t you imagine how different it would be, if we start ‘seeking’?
I pray this for you.
Imagine how different our bit of world would be.