Tag Archive: Revelation


Good Point, Melvyn Bragg

Why DID Jesus tell the disciples to take a sword and say ‘it is enough’ when they said they had two?  What did they need them for?  We aren’t told they used them.  I heard that and thought my whole anti-war argument was demolished.  I felt really embarrassed and wrong.  So did Jesus’ teaching contradict itself?  Did Jesus require obedience, or did he teach by tests and by allowing people to discover themselves to themselves?  He said ‘if you love me, keep my commandments’, so what commandments are we to keep? ‘Render to no man evil for evil but overcome evil with good’, or ‘take a sword’?

On Thursday morning I felt I had a moment of painful but completely cohesive understanding.  The writer of Hebrews (who I thought of as Paul, even though I know many if not most scholars reject that, but I had forgotten, so most of what I was thinking falls in regard to Paul) says in Hebrews 6:4-6 that it is impossible for someone who has tasted of the heavenly gift, if he falls away, to be renewed to repentance, as he has put the Lord to an open shame.  On Thursday morning I was thinking that it would be better if that had never been said or written.  But I was thinking of it out of context.  Its context was the return of Hebrew Christians to the old sacrificial system.

But I was thinking that verses like that as they are often understood and feared are the reason  for so much bandstanding when it comes to disagreements between Christians and insisting that we, really, love God.  I think so.  I think it is verses like these, coupled with some of the more heavily directive and dogmatic teaching that can be heard in church, that make us afraid to embrace ourselves and our thoughts and experiences and trust God that, if we face and handle and accept who we are, as and when in every aspect, that God will bring us through.  Rather than saying, ‘no, no, no, I love God’ without even allowing the thing we fear in ourselves to fully present itself.  We try to push it away rather than let it present itself fully to our perception to be ‘naturally’ rejected by us as Christians, recognised after a good long look, after exposing our inner eyes and ears, and just expelled by the whole person as foreign, rather than battening down the hatches and nipping even the thought and perception in the bud before it can develop to be understood and recognised.  If you don’t understand what you are rejecting, how can you REALLY reject it?  Is that why we so often struggle over and over with the same thing, because we won’t let it manifest in the first place to our recognition so it keeps coming back, because we are not rejecting it in the first place but closing our eyes in stubborn fear?

And the bitter arguments and the fear of each other, the denunciations, overtly or covertly.  It seems to me they are born of a fundamental fear, rather than a trust in the love and faithfulness and goodness of God.

For years I stopped telling God I loved Him.  I believed it was an assertion of something which was barely true.  Sometimes I would tell Him I obviously DIDN’T love Him, or I couldn’t do or be as I was.  I affirmed HIS love for ME and refused to lie, as I saw it, by saying I loved HIM.  Consequently I think pleading and asserting our own love for God in a discussion, conversation, disagreement or confrontation, or even in a public act of individual worship, can be an act of abuse and manipulation and a hindrance to humility and openness.  I think focussing on our love rather than His is a hindrance to deep and lasting change, more often than not.  Change is about more than performance.  It has to be initiated from outside of ourselves and should be something we submit to, not something we try to produce as an angst-ridden proof.  That is what I think.  Lasting change is a response to a truth which we know won’t move or change.  The truth puts pressure on us and we yield.  We don’t need to invoke God.  He is in the process and reveals Himself in the process.  In the process itself He draws us into relationship, with Him and with others.

I’m thinking a lot at the moment and having conflicting thoughts, but at the moment I would say I know this much is true, and that is where I will stop in this post.

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King David – Camera Snap From a War Zone

David said, ‘Let a righteous man strike me, it is a kindness’.  Is this the truth, or is it, like his affair with Bathsheba and ordering her husband to be killed in battle, a sign of emotional sickness?

Poor little guy, one of many sons, the youngest and despised, sent out every day to look after the sheep on his own.  With nothing but his target skills and his harp and singing and his idealised idea, in his loneliness, of his relationship with God, to keep him going.

When his father Jesse was asked by Samuel to get all of his sons together because he wanted to anoint one of them to be king after Saul, neither Jesse nor the rest of his sons gave David a thought.  He was out there with the sheep.  Samuel got to the end of everyone who was in front of him, the story says, and God said ‘no’ to all of them, and he had to ask if there was another son.  When Jesse said yes, he said yes but, not oh yes of course.  Samuel had to insist on him being brought in.

Later Saul kept trying to kill him, and he and Jonathan agreed a code that Jonathan would use to tell David that he needed to flee, if he thought so.  And David fled.  He got to a city and pretended madness, he lied to cover his tracks and people were killed in the wake of that.  Yet he said he would not fear.  He was very afraid and in denial, whatever his affirmations and confessions.  He said he was convinced of his own righteousness and that God was with him and knew him in his righteousness.  It seems to me his suffering and isolation had pushed him over the edge.  He felt he had to be perfect or something to be loved and approved of, and so he asserted that he was, exulted in it, and told God he was a perfect and righteous man.

And my teachers have believed his reported self-assessment.

It seems to me this is faulty interpretation and exegesis and shows no understanding of human psychology.

They are as much in denial about him as he was about himself, and as the prophet might have been who said God had said David was a man after God’s own heart, who would fulfil all of God’s desires.  And yet God had to tell David, when he wanted to build him a temple, that he was not the man to do it, because he was a man of blood.  He went around killing people and cutting off foreskins for trophies.

The Bible, reportedly, shows people as they were.  It doesn’t say that everything that came from his life and pen and lips were God’s truth.  The Bible, if it is true, is the truth about the people in it, and what they say is from God is not necessarily from God at all, and it is undiscerning and maybe a bit afraid to look at every word the people who are called God’s servants say and think they are all right and perfect and can all be synthesised into being truth in themselves, just because they are in the Bible and came from people who have been made, historically and by the will and judgment of men, both at the time and since then, into heroes.

When the Bible says God was with him, does it just mean that people loved and protected him?  The Bible was written by men, and men said that God was with him – because they had a warrior mentality?

David said I am for peace but they are for war.  So why did God say he couldn’t build his temple because he was a man of blood?  He was holding David responsible.  Or Nathan’s prophetic spirit and internal workings were.  Later David prayed ‘deliver me from blood guiltiness, Oh my God’.  So what was Nathan’s bag?  He put a real heavy on him, and made him live without formal punishment, which was obviously a psychological need and would have been appropriate.  (thought: unless man of blood is just referring to the thing with Uriah, then of course I am just being arrogant and proud again deciding it was about his killing sprees, which in the eyes of Israel were worth eulogising – Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands.  That was why Saul wanted to kill him – he was jealous.  It says the hand of God was with David because he was killing so many people.  Whose judgment was that?  Was it REALLY God’s?)

When it says the glory of the Lord filled the place and the priest’s could not go about their work, does it mean there was a sudden emotional and psychological crisis felt by all that no one knew how to handle? So they fell on their faces and worshipped until – what – released them?

I’m sure this could be taken much further.  I love the fact that it can.  But then who is God?  Who are you?  Who am I?  And what is good?  And how can we free ourselves of this evil and hero protecting mentality to pursue what is right and good, and not what is safe and cosy and cronyistic and cliquey and maudlin?

 

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