“The porsche is mine.” Sayeth the Lord.

“The Clash between Jesus and the powers of the world… was never simply about God having a bit more power than humans, so that he could manage to beat them at their own game.  It isn’t that God has stronger bombs and tanks than anybody else.    It is what people expect and often want today.  (Why doesn’t God do something to stop wicked dictators killing people?)”  – N.T. Wright, Simply Good news (43)

This quote kicked me in the gut.   Like many great quotes, it made me want to write and respond.  It made me want to embrace its truth and push it away.  And so I started this blog post, and I was creating all these metaphors about war, about nations, I was thinking mostly about others.  I was kind of running from my own baggage, pulling a bait-and-switch: looking like I was enlightened, fooling myself into thinking I was contemplating the full weight of all this.  It’s so much fun to go after those splinters in other’s eyes while denying the beam in our own.

We all know those targets that it is so easy to feel superior to.  Interpretation of Revelation that get turned into books and movies that boil down to God coming in with stronger bombs and tanks.  I feel some sense of superiority because the big bombs and tanks I am waiting for are much more metaphorical.

For example, one of my favorite writers, an elder statesman of the emergent movement, has written extensively about the nature of judgement: what it would be like to suddenly carry the full weight and understanding of the hurt we have caused.  If I am going to work at the beam in my own eye, here is the hard question I need to face, head-on:

Why do I relish this thought?  What is so appealing about the idea that one of God’s children might suffer?

The question of what is actually going to happen, that is irrelevant, right now, to me.  Maybe some of the events described in the last book of the bible are going to come to pass in the literalistic straight foreward manner imagined in those book/movie series.   Maybe that terrible judgement imagined by the post-modern/emergent writer is going to happen.   Maybe both.  Maybe neither.

As is so often the case, the important thing is my heart and mind.  It’s so easy to look down my nose at somebody excited by Jesus smiting the wrong-doers with a sword coming out of his mouth.   It’s much more difficult to confess that somewhere in me there is this glee that the wrong-doers might suffer.

A mature and whole faith must embrace this: If it is Good (not just right, but capital “G” -good ) that they suffer, then God will see that they suffer.

It is telling, I think, what we do with the idea that vengeance belongs to the lord.

Just this morning I realized something: that we can go in two different directions with this idea, that vengeance belongs to the lord.  The first?   We can act like a grade school kid.  “My dad can beat up your dad.”

Well, yes.  Our dad– the maker of the universe–  could indeed beat up “your” dad, whoever that is.  But would he?  Should he?  When we hear that God says, “Vengence is mine.”  Do we project our ideas and expectations onto this?  Do we expect God to enact this vengeance?

We have an alternative.  For me, it is not easier.  But it is better.

I have an imagine in my mind.  A wealthy and wise neighbor has a beautiful sports car, a convertible, parked in his yard.  If I noticed it just sat there, I might say, “You shouldn’t just let that car sit there!  You should roll the roll the top down, cruise down main street, speed down the freeway!”

“The Porsche” sayeth my neighbor “Is mine.”

2013-porsche-boxster-light-green-convertible

And if I truly believe that it is his, I recognize that it doesn’t matter what I think of his decisions.  If he wants to let it sit there and rust, and never, ever drive it… this is his prerogative.   If he hires a group of biker dudes to smash it, this is none of my business.

If I  believe that this neighbor is truly wise… If I know he is smarter than me, I ought to embrace the idea that perhaps I do not understand his decision because of my own ignorance.

I could pray for God to come in with bombs and tanks.   Or I could just pray that his will be done, in his way.   That is a hard thing.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on ““The porsche is mine.” Sayeth the Lord.”

  1. Awesome. I have become more peaceful, less anxious, as my faith as matured. There is no pressure for me to surround myself in other people’s business, deciding on their punishments my God will dole to them. I am not God. I can’t possibly know His will- I can’t possibly see what He sees. I can simply trust in His will as being what is right in a big picture that I can’t see. The pressure is off. It reminds me of when I would tell on my sister, and my father would say, “You need to worry about you.” I would be furious- can he not see that vengeance is necessary? But as I grew older, I no longer delighted in my sister’s failings, I no longer looked to my dad to enforce the consequences I wanted him to enforce.

    Like

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