Having kicked off the year with some posts about The Bible itself, I think it’s time for this blog to be true to its title and write some posts about God. This of course strikes me as a ridiculous thing to attempt in a short blog post.
Considering that Christians believe God is Trinitarian, I’ll extend to writing across the next three posts. (This is still ridiculous, but so be it)
Many years ago I decided that I thought teaching through stories was the way to go. Sometime later, I realised Jesus shared this pedagogical perspective. So across the next three posts I’ll share three stories Jesus told about God.
This means the posts will be less Alison-speak and more Jesus-speak. This methinks is an excellent decision.
Story One: The Wedding Feast
“At that time the Kingdom of heaven will be like this. Once there were ten young women who took their oil lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and the other five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any extra oil with them, while the wise ones took containers full of oil for their lamps. The bridegroom was late in coming, so they began to nod and fall asleep.
“It was already midnight when the cry rang out, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come and meet him!’ The ten young women woke up and trimmed their lamps. Then the foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Let us have some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ ‘No, indeed,’ the wise ones answered, ‘there is not enough for you and for us. Go to the store and buy some for yourselves.’ So the foolish ones went off to buy some oil; and while they were gone, the bridegroom arrived. The five who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was closed.
“Later the others arrived. ‘Sir, sir! Let us in!’ they cried out. ‘Certainly not! I don’t know you,’ the bridegroom answered.”
And Jesus concluded, “Watch out, then, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Here Jesus uses the activities of a wedding feast, run a little differently to the modern Western world, to show what God is like.
God is the bridegroom and the wedding feast is heaven. The ten young women symbolise your regular Church attendees who are presumably all looking forward to heaven.
But Jesus’ story makes it clear that they don’t all make it into the wedding feast, or heaven. The bridegroom says he doesn’t know some of them.
Having watched many a news report on the Royal Commission into institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse, I know exactly what HNAC Alison would think about Churches where the response has been frankly shocking.
HNAC Alison would wonder how people who are Christians could behave in that way.
Actual Alison doesn’t think those people actually are Christians.
And that’s one thing I really love about this story that Jesus tells, the bridegroom is totally aware of who the frauds are waiting for the wedding feast.
Sure, they were sitting there waiting for ages. They were involved in Church activities, preached a sermon (or a few), prepared a Sunday School lesson, might have even held a very important sounding title; yet none of that matters.
They said they were looking at The Bible and putting it into practice in their life, but in reality they were looking in the other direction.
I’ll just pause here before I finish this post, in case there is anyone reading who has been the victim of abuse within the Church by someone who claimed to be a follower of Jesus.
My words can’t offer much, but I can tell you that I truly believe God saw everything they did and he hurt along with you. Hypocrisy might be hidden for a time, but on judgement day, the bridegroom is no fool.
Why God allowed this abuse to happen, I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t mean he enjoyed the fact that it happened to you.
The Bible says that God disciplines his children and this discipline is good. God doesn’t think abuse is good though and it’s important not to confuse the two.
I think everything happens for a reason. This doesn’t mean I think we should reflect on abuse in a positive light though. So if anyone’s ever said something along the lines of ‘Isn’t it great that God has changed you to be more like him through that abuse’ then I apologise.
That’s not Biblical thinking. That’s just plain sadistic.
Instead take away one thing about God this story from Jesus explains: God knows who the religious hypocrites are and he ain’t buying it.
Yours in feasting,