I missed last week's Alpha cause of my rehearsal, and it was great to get back to it tonight.
The last few days have been insanely busy. I've been trying to get everything together for Write About Jesus, while also organizing the moves of some new furniture we've bought. Wedding plans have kept us busy, and I've also been preparing for some gigs I have coming up within the next six weeks. I've been trying to get some proper sleep, but that part hasn't been working out so well. Maybe on the plane tomorrow?
Tonight's Alpha was all about the Bible - why and how should we read it? I've always had trouble with the Bible. How do I reconcile the loving God I meet through Jesus, with the Old Testament God who seems to think nothing of killing off five thousand men and their cows? And how do I embrace a book that has been the inspiration of Hitler and the KKK? Yes, I know the Bible is a book of God and love. And I know it has been instrumental in saving the souls and inspiring the lives of millions of people around the world. I'm not dissing the Bible. I'm just saying: It's complicated!
It's huge and dense and complicated. I love that Jesus came to bring things into a tight focus. Concentrate on two things - love God, and love your neighbour. I think that's the key to the Bible for Christians. There's lots of stuff going on, but when you get overwhelmed, just think about that - love God, and love your neighbour. So simple. And yet, sometimes so difficult to put into practice.
When you hear that the KKK believes in the Bible and uses it for inspiration, you have to wonder, "Did they read the Love Thy Neighbour part?". You see, I have this crazy and radical idea that when Jesus told us to love our neighbour, he actually meant everybody. And I mean, everybody. I think he meant the guy who lives next door who yells at our puppy. I think he meant the prostitutes on Dundas Street. I think he meant that old man in my church who can't deal with using a contemporary prayer book. I think he meant that woman at work who just can't stop babbling. I think he meant people who are different from us - different in colour, financial status, education, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
And I think he meant for us to love them. Not just tolerate them. Love them. I know I find this hard. I just want to scream at that neighbour to move out of the neighbourhood. And I want to tell that woman at work to shut up. But none of that is love. Love is generous. St. Paul said it best: Patient and kind.
Oh the Bible! So simple. And yet almost two thousand years after the first pages were written, we still can't figure it out.