Things that Go ‘Thud’…

It’s easy to lose the plot when it comes to life, others, and even God.

Why is that?

One reason is perhaps that we tend to lose sight of the vastness of God and his unbelievable complexity behind our simple encounters. We ‘naturally’ gravitate toward embracing the aspects of others, and of Him, with which we’re most familiar and comfortable and stop there. It’s rampant in politics today. Churches do the same thing where ‘spiritual people’ are some of the worst offenders; which is a shame.

Here are some slices of the Christian pie. It maybe fully baked but chances are we haven’t tasted every slice; either ever, or for a long time.

Traditional – our denomination, our tribe, our history – always done it this way

Contemporary – relevant today, everyday language, easy access

Social justice – practical works of loving and caring for poor, oppressed, marginalized

Revival – signs and wonders, God’s power and presence

Worship – intimacy with God, music, dance, drama

Biblical – preaching God’s Word – truth, principles, doctrine and dogma

Spirit led – God speaks today, visions, dreams, prophetic

Sexuality – gender issues

Mission – out into the wider world to share the gospel

Prayer – Intercession, praying, fasting, meditation, quiet reflection

Healing – God’s power and love manifest in healing disease today

Evangelism – concern for the lost, sharing love of Jesus through friendship

Maybe you have more…..

All of those expressions capture an aspect of God’s character and heart. But we prefer to grab hold of the one or two that appeal and perhaps resist or distance ourselves from the ‘others’ (not me, or my cup of tea). The result is a strangely odd shaped and somewhat deformed and stunted expression of God on earth – who is not in heaven.

We also much prefer comfort and find change hard. Particularly when ‘our God’ has become embedded in a familiar doctrine, belief or action. And it’s not only with God, it’s with one another. Even more easy, with those we don’t know whom we’ve labelled under an abstract collective title of politics, behaviors, beliefs, education, nationality, social action, or whatever.

That’s why the world right now is filled with the sounds of things going thud… accompanied by metal grinders, chain saws, and chisels. Statues falling…… until not one is left standing. Judged unworthy by the scrupulous judgement of our moral indignation today. “They did this, they believed that, hypocrite, they didn’t…. how could they?”

What on earth are we on about? So pedantic and politically correct we fail to extend grace, consider context, recognize the extraordinary limitations and frailties of humanity that has never ‘got it right’ in any tribe, nation, or period of history. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)…. Let you without sin throw the first stone. (John 8:7)”

It’s easy to point fingers back in history and topple statues. And there certainly is a place for reflection and even in some cases, restitution. But it may be more helpful and challenging to stop shouting and learn how to listen better. We’re living in a very simplistic time where people’s opinions are formed on superficial news clips from their favorite channel, maybe a conspiracy theory or two, and some deep seated need to be ‘right’.

It’s always been that way. Remember Jesus talking about responses to John the Baptist and Himself? “John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'”(Luke 7:33-34)

What if the truth demands a little more effort to discern accurately and objectively? What if it has many angles, contains tensions, and is far more gracious and complex than we can fathom? Why not promote a culture where more statues are erected side by side; where different representations are acknowledged together even if they are diametrically opposed? There’s no need to revise history or clean it up. It will always contain at least three statues for every one that currently stands… the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need more artists and sculptors; less chainsaws and statue ‘topplers’.

Rest assured, whichever statue you erect there will be someone ‘out there’ who desperately wants to tear it down.

We might all be better served if we advocated for more space and time to listen (and hear) one another – regarding the past, present, and future. If we learned to respect ‘the other’ even when we passionately disagree and if we fight for the right for them to have as much breathing room as we would like to enjoy. What would it be like if we were more interested and curious, asked more questions, took the time to learn rather than assume? Of course the line is crossed when either of us resorts to force to ensure the other agrees, submits, or surrenders.

Freedom and equality is easy to carve into granite and quote from a podium. To live in that place and space demands something deeper and more elusive than we humans can find within ourselves.

Jesus wasn’t joking when He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Reflecting on my life, situations, and history I have to agree.

“Thud!” There goes the statue to my self-righteousness. “Thud!” And another to my opinion, understanding, and perspective (oops, that was a big one). “Thud!” Won’t admit to what that one was.

Before we go statue toppling it maybe helpful to kneel before the One who has endured, will endure, and in love has refrained from knocking us off our tiny pedestals.

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus
See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life, yeah
I see the evidence of Your goodness (When I wake up in the morning)
All over my life, all over my life (I see Your mercies are new)
(Yeah, You are all around us)
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life (Yeah, You are all around us)

So why should I fear? The evidence is here
Why should I fear? Oh, the evidence is here

John Cox

Christian Author

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