We walk around on Earth, bumping into each other and claiming to understand nothing about why we are here or what we are supposed to be doing here.
Sometimes we grab onto something, a thought we convince ourselves is a belief in something or an enthusiasm that flashes its appeal at us, and we carry it with us as though it has real meaning.
In a way, Christians have it the hardest.
We have a book put in our hands and are told, Here, read this. This will tell you everything you need to know to live a holy life.
No one actually tells us what is a holy life. We get a lot on what is not a holy life. But very little on the is-ness of God on Earth.
And so we read the Bible and pretend to “get it.” We nod our heads at one another, winking our profound understanding of God at one another.
Our secret handshake, as it were.
We know why Cain was marked. Don’t we?
We know why Job was stripped. Don’t we?
We know why Jesus was crucified. Don’t we?
We know it all.
Just ask us. We’ll tell you.
The manual of God. Available to almost everyone on Earth.
That begins with God’s eviction of his own creation from their home. People he created in his own image, but when they act as though they are, in fact, equal to God, they are cast out on their faces.
We understand this. Don’t we?
So let’s just tell the truth for a second. We Don’t Get It.
First the Bible goes one way. Then it turns around and goes the other.
But that’s really isn’t the worst of it.
What is the worst of having the Bible before as a manual to life is that we don’t see what is there.
Because we don’t want to see what is there.
Jesus says, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
So, right there, Jesus divides people into two (count them, two) classes: the righteous (of which we are wholly and completely) and the sinners (you guys over there).
Now, in truth, we see a lot of the sinners in Jesus’s life. People he heals. People he saves from others. Some even that he saves from themselves.
Every once in a while we get to see a glimpse of a righteous person. Never for more than a few words. But they are there. Somewhere. In the crowds. The temple. Generally about.
But is this really it?
Just two groups?
What about the scribes and Pharisees? Certainly Jesus does not treat them as the righteous.
So that makes them sinners.
Except for Nicodemus (who comes to Jesus), when does Jesus lift a finger to save any of them?
If Jesus is here to save the sinners, why does this group of “sinners” get to have dirt kicked in their faces? Insulted. Spit upon. Blamed.
So we now have three groups: (1) sinners; (2) righteous; (3) and non-righteous/sinners who are not being saved.
The Unforgivable, perhaps?
Then we have Caiaphas.
Is he righteous? No.
Is he a sinner Jesus has come to save? No.
But perhaps he is in another class: The Evil Incarnate.
Now four classes.
We meet the evil in the words of Jesus. We are told to not resist evil. We are told to love our enemy.
Caiaphas is evil. Did Jesus love him?
Jesus didn’t appear to love the Pharisees. Not one little bit.
And he most certainly resisted them.
They tried to tell him how to behave, and he said to them, Whatever!
I call that resistance.
But then there is the fifth class.
The reason for my writing today.
I call these, The Shapers.
The ones who show us what it looks like to shape God on Earth.
The ones who scream, NO! at Jesus. At his works. At his teachings. At his ministry.
Don’t you come here and wag that finger of yours around and heal anybody! We Won’t Have IT!
It’s there from the moment of his birth.
The world screaming, NO! at him.
Not here. Nor here. Not there either.
We don’t want what you are trying to sell us.
We’re having none of it.
This, literally, is a lesson on how to shape God on Earth.
If, and when, he comes to us with his gifts and we hold out our hands and scream, NO!, at them, then we are showing ourselves, and those around us, that we have power over God.
And not the other way around.
People pray and pray and pray. And their prayers are answered. And how many times are these prayers met with complaints and rejection?
More than you can imagine, actually.
Acceptance (when God gives you something you want and you accept it) is a realm of God. It is a realm because it one of the most challenging things that we experience in life.
Getting our way. Getting what we want. Getting what we asked for. Through God.
It’s why gratitude is a fundamental tenant of God. An absolute tenant. An absolute expression of God.
I have always understood this, Shoo, God, tendency.
When I was a young woman, a budding mystic, in all my weirdness, I went through a period of inexplicable occurrences. To be sure, I was used to having God in my life. But this was different.
My brain was being fiddled with. And not just my brain.
Walking across an large, empty parking lot one day with some co-workers, while trying to explain to them a certain lesson, a quarter fell from the sky at my feet.
Praying in my car during lunchtime, I heard the sound of my prayer in the car. As though it were coming from the radio.
I could see things in the life around me like it was made of glass and I could see right through it and understand what was behind it.
And so I said to God, STOP!
I knew that as much of a freak as I am, I needed to live life in as ordinary a way as I could. My gifts could not be those things that separated me from others.
I had to find a way to be part of the world.
I’m not sure that I ever have. But I do know what it is to feel that tension between needing to maintain normalcy and experience the wonder of God.
And I’ve seen people putting out their hands and saying Stop! to God all my life.
For most of my life, having visions about a time of extreme strife for us, I wanted to see people pull themselves up and acknowledge what was coming and begin to do something about it.
But that hasn’t been my experience of people. Instead I watch as we become increasingly childlike and self-indulgent.
Without a clue about the power of God.
And our own power to limit God’s love on Earth.
To refuse to reach out to alleviate the suffering of others.
To shield ourselves from the experience of receiving the love of God.
So what are we to do?
We all, including myself, have to come to terms with why we don’t want to accept God in our lives.
Perhaps this is the ultimate definition of humility that there is.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.