There might be some readers out there saying, “OK Jay…I am tracking with you, yep I get how you think there are some serious discrepancies, but you still believe there is hope right?” Well hell yeah! There is hope, I live with it every day but it looks NOTHING like the prescriptive life I used to live and anything I thought was true 20 years ago has since been messed with.
The silliness of praying like a parrot for someone’s sore big toe when the rest of the world is living in debilitating poverty infuriates me even though I tolerated it in the past. My daughter Sunshine has forced me to embrace mystery and stop farting around trying to tie everything up neatly with the bible as though that was its primary purpose. People need hope not a legislative list that is ticked.
I long for more churches to make its business about ‘kind eyes’ and less about right or wrong. People see Jesus and his message of hope through ‘kind eyes’, not a theological idea or rule. For those of you reading this who don’t have a Christian faith but are searching, there are some great communities out there who get this, keep looking you will find them.
Reflecting on our journey with Sunshine provides sharp edges that push through the fluffy bits. If I am completely honest, I now realise the effort I put into understanding the intricacies of the bible all those years ago holds little power today. Mostly… it was just a bunch of apologetics and miff muffed moof to make me feel groovy at the time. The result of hearing sermons year after year has not created a defence barrier that somehow protected me from evil or despair. I wished it did.
In my grief over Sunshine I didn’t reach for the bible, I reached for friends who acted like Jesus. If anything, I avoided superficial bible beaters fearing they would try and sum up our experience as a result of sin or think that the purpose of our pain was for God to bring good. The mum at your local hospital nursing their child through the 10th epileptic fit for the day is appalled by the suggestion that all that happens in life is ultimately Gods will. Honestly…who would ever equate the love that Jesus talked about to a God who is so clinical?
When Sunshine was fighting for her life in the ICU I wasn’t contemplating how God was going to bless me or if I was meant to give 10% of my income to the church or if life was predestined or affected by my will….I didn’t give a crap. I needed ‘kind eyes’ that hugged me letting me feel – not forcing me to think my way through the problem. For me the emphasis has to get back to the love bit….the love that Jesus talked about and said, “look… if you can’t make sense of everything or don’t have an education that enables you to read the bible or have a different perspective to someone else, just make it your priority to love people. That will give you the best opportunity to act out what I value.” (A terrible ‘Jay paraphrase’ for those of you who don’t read the bible and apologies to those that do read the bible!)
Now I know what you are thinking…if you are a Christian you are thinking yikes…”don’t mention the war!” And if you are not a Christian you are probably wondering why the heck I am so wound up and attempt to pass me a beer (which I would gratefully accept)! Yes…let me explain my verbal vomit. I am deeply distressed when the people who do want to look for God get messed around by rules leaving them more confused as to who God is. I am also just as saddened when some write church off as a disastrous mess. Even our governments know if you take the church out of society they will be left with a social catastrophe in terms of replacing the support networks it provides.
I would be in danger of stroking my horrendous ego if I saw myself as the great UN mediator between people of faith and people with no faith…God save us! What I am attempting to highlight is the humanity we all share and break down the toxicity of the ‘all knowing’ that moves us dangerously close to arrogance. While people argue over what the bible says about the existence of hell, the mum and dad at the hospital saying goodbye to their child for the last time knows full well what hell is. People don’t need another denomination because there is a difference of opinion on an aspect of the bible. People just need Christ followers who will love. We can do better and it starts with big chunks of humility.