Grace and Peace from the Mystery in whom we live and move and have our being. Go to war with God.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”Luke 14:25-33
“I’m a Christian, not a Biblican!”
It’s a good thing I’m a Christian, and not a biblican. And by that, I mean I am someone who seeks to follow the Christ and not a book. Someone who worships a living entity and not ink on a page. Someone who can look beyond the literal.
Because if there is one thing I’ve learned in my 66 years… there’s much more to words than their literal meaning. My former marriage taught me that:
- Me: “How are you?”
- Her: “Fine.”
- Me: “Good, because for a moment there, I thought you were upset.”
It’s a good thing I’m a Christian, and not a biblican. Otherwise, I would have a problem between this and Jesus saying there are two great commandments:
“Love the Lord your God. And love your neighbor.”Luke 10:27
But even in saying that, it doesn’t take the sting away from these words, and in one respect I think it only makes them worse.
Some random thoughts on individual verses, here at the beginning… before I prove I have no cohesive thoughts on everything at the end:
“None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”Luke 14:33
- Possession is 9/10ths of the LAW! But the Mystery is 10/10ths GIFT/GRACE.
Anyone see a conflict here? Possessions – law. Mystery – GIFT/GRACE.
Now on an interesting side note… I’ve never met a biblical literalist – a biblican – who used this verse as the primary criteria for calling oneself a disciple of Jesus. Never met one. They all seemed to still have possessions, and some were mighty proud of them all. I guess they do believe in historical context and metaphor after all.
Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes at him with twenty thousand?”Luke 14:31
- You wanna wage war against the Mystery, you better consider the cost.
- You wanna hold out for free will, tell me about it when you’re dead and buried in the grave.
- You want God to be your co-pilot, you better remember who created the weather you’re flying through.
Jesus died, why?
And this great bumper sticker, “Jesus died so you can have a choice.” Well guess what, “You’re going to die so you can no longer have a choice.” And then God can finally have God’s way with you.
…What king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes at him with twenty thousand?”Luke 14:31
- Don’t try to counter Mystery’s grace with your free will – it’s a losing battle.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”Luke 14:26
- Somehow, I don’t think Jesus would make it as a ‘family values’ candidate.
And this quote from Saul Steinberg, which I think gets at what Jesus is trying to say:
What we hold dear
Now some random thoughts on the totality:
Jesus is speaking about all the things we HOLD dear. Family, what we’ve built with our lives, our towers and kingdoms, Life itself.
All the things we HOLD dear. And maybe that’s the point and the problem. We HOLD them.
The problem isn’t in the noun, but the verb.
The problem isn’t my family… oh wait, have you met my family? They’re the cause of all my problems. But we don’t have enough time for THAT Touchpoint.
Anyway, getting back to the Touchpoint at hand. The problem isn’t the noun, but the verb. The problem with all the things we HOLD dear is that we think we HOLD them. We think we possess them. We think they are ours to keep. We think the things we’ve built belong all and only to us.
Howard Schultz, owner of Starbucks, likes to call himself a self-made billionaire. Which I find curious, because he must have attended a different Sex-Ed class than I did growing up. I learned, in that class filled with giggles and confounded silence, that NO ONE IS SELF-MADE. And that must have been something important to learn, because my parents had to sign a permission slip for me to learn that.
Think about that. Your parents had to sign a permission slip for you to learn that NO ONE IS SELF-MADE.
Why is that such a dirty little secret? Is it because it’s so subversive to our present-day culture?
Anyway, back to self-made billionaire Howard Schultz:
I seriously doubt he grows the coffee beans himself… harvests them himself… ships them himself… grinds them himself… builds the water filtration system that purifies the water that seeps over them himself. Or that he created the economy and cultural mindset that thinks it’s cool to pay $10.00 for 50¢ worth of liquid.
And quite frankly, I’ve been in Starbucks more than a few times, and I don’t think he has ever served me. Self-Made… PLEEEEZE.
Now the point I’m trying to make isn’t about Howard Schultz. The only difference between him and you and me is degree. Well, that and a few billion dollars.
“Look at who I am, what I’ve become”
We keep wanting to bring our supposed possessions out and hold them up to God. “Look God, look at my free will, my faith, my piety, my well-balanced family… just check out my Facebook page or read my Christmas letter. Look at my successful career. Look at all I’ve built.” What we don’t understand is that our attitude towards all those things is at war with the Divine. They aren’t our possessions. They aren’t our accomplishments. We are not Self-Made. And one can only hope God defeats us before we die, so that we can finally live.
The church is not immune to this, as well. A few years ago, I did church marketing for a financial services company. I attended many different kinds of churches. Those with all the smells and bells, incense and incantations. And those churches with none of that. Just singing and talking about how they felt about Jesus.
But in many of them there was still an emptiness. And here is what I realized: Many churches fall into two categories – those who worship their worship, and those who put faith in their faith.
They are both celebrating what they hold dear – their religious practices or their belief systems. But it wasn’t the Mystery that was being celebrated. It was what they held most dear – their acts or their beliefs.
What happens when you focus on the Mystery
Now I must say, in those churches where the Divine was the focus, it didn’t matter whether it was high church, or low church, or no church. When whatever they were doing put the focus on the Mystery, IT WAS DIVINE.
It’s a conundrum I suppose. How do you NOT HOLD ON to what you hold most dear?
But then again, how do you give in order to receive? And how do you die in order to live?
I suppose only by hearing over and over again, “It’s all gift. It’s all grace.”
Now that I think about it, when Jesus asks us to give up all our possessions, he’s really asking us to give up nothing. He’s only asking us to give up what was never ours to begin with. And that is our ongoing battle, our ongoing war with God.
What we don’t understand is that our attitude towards all these things is at war with the Divine. They aren’t our possessions. They aren’t our accomplishments. We are not Self-Made. And one can only hope God defeats us before we die, so that we can finally live.
Go to war with God
So maybe we should go to war with God. Maybe that is our only hope!
So go to war with God, please do. Because your petty army of possessions will never measure up to Mystery’s grace. So go to war with God, please do. Because then, God can finally have God’s way with you. Like God did in pronouncing forgiveness, once and for all, when we thought we had defeated Him on the cross.
Deny God by focusing on your own faith. Betray God by pointing to your own piety. Run away from God by remembering your own accomplishments. Please, do it now. So when you finally get so tired of running and fighting, God can defeat you before you die… so that you can live.
So that when you’re finally ready to make peace, God can sit you down and feed you. Each and every day, in each and every way. Through family and friends. Work and recreation. Study and experience. All as a gift rather than a possession.
Each and every day, in each and every way, the Christ can feed you… giving you His very self.
Like here in this simple meal of bread and drink.
Wednesday Respite is a 30-min contemplative service of scripture, prayer, music and a Spirited Touchpoint by Spirit in the Desert faith mentor, Rev. “Bro. Jim” Hanson.
Touchpoint is a reflection on where God’s story touches our life story. It is a short homily based on a biblical story of people in the Old and New Testaments and their relationship with God. Our spiritual ancestors’ experience of God’s grace connects with our lives in the present and our relationship with the Divine. Previous Touchpoints are available as PDFs or on SoundCloud.