No, not that Mr. Scott (if your inner Trekkie was automatically taking you to the illustrious engineer — or your inner Dwight to the socially inept office manager).
Mr. Scott is what I shall call the young man who stood before me this past Sunday just outside the bookstore.
“I’m an atheist.”
I was introduced to Mr. Scott through a mother and daughter – not sure of the exact connection. Friend? Neighbor? Boyfriend? Potential boyfriend? (I’m betting on that one.) Perhaps not crucial to know. They had just gotten him a Life Application NLT – leatherlike and thick and black. He looked like he had never held one before. He said he would read it. Wanted to know where to start.
“I’m an atheist. But I’m open to seeing what this is about. But I also have values I’m not willing to give up just because the church says so, like Gay Rights.”
Kudos on not wanting to do what the church, any church, says just because it says so.
But how do you tell a self-proclaimed atheist that you feel the Father’s heart for him? Because I did. In retrospect I would love to have cupped his face in my hands and drawing close said, “I feel the Father’s love for you!” Okay, would probably have been way too freaky and creepy, particularly considering the Gay Right’s comment.
Too much. Too soon. Too close. No doubt.
But I felt it.
What I did, given that he had already been given this rather large Bible, was suggest he start in the Gospel of Mark and go slowly, that Jesus is the primer for all of reality and for all the sprawling story of the diverse, eclectic, ancient library we call “the Bible,” that it’s all about knowing him, that he has accepted him as he is, where he is, with whatever values he presently holds, and that embracing that acceptance will ultimately change him, his values, everything.
I offered to sit with him as he began the journey of reading, to listen to his questions and thoughts, his objections and reflections. I gave him my email and cell phone number (555-5666, of course).
He thanked me. He took the Bible.
And then he returned it to the daughter the next day.
The mom called me to say that he had returned it saying he wanted nothing to do with it.
So now I see him in my mind’s eye, standing there with that thick, black Bible.
I wonder if that big Bible, when he took it out of the box, seemed like nothing more than a huge religious enema, as he no doubt asked himself, “Is this girl worth it?”
Too much. Too soon. No doubt.
I totally believe in, delight in, love this diverse, eclectic, ancient library we call “the Bible.” Totally. I love it as much as it can drive me crazy (kinda like my spouse – in fact, I’ve known both for about the same amount of time). I love the Word it contains and communicates and ultimately points us to in the Living Word who is Jesus who ultimately becomes the freshly incarnated Word in us, shaping us, transforming us, leading us to dance to a entirely new rhythm that is reshaping all existence.
And now I see him holding that big, black Bible.
The picture transforms before me into a symbol, a metaphor of a larger reality. I’m transported back to the Gospel of Mark. Jesus is walking by the lake. A crowd gathers. He sits in a small boat just off shore as the crowd remains at water’s edge. He has no scrolls or books to distribute. He tells stories – the first one being of that farmer scattering seed.
Jesus scattered seed in the form (primarily) of non-linear, abstract stories (we call them parables) in which he never publicly connected the dots.
We tend to drop an entire 50 lb seed bag on what we hope will turn out to be good soil. Images from movies of doomed characters in silos being buried alive by descending grain now come to mind. Or the frequent Monty Python bit of the huge weight falling from above on some unlucky character. Or of emaciated prison camp survivors whose bellies burst when sympathetic liberators provide them with a full meal.
Too much. Too soon. No doubt.
It all just makes me wonder if we wouldn’t better serve Christ and our world if we became better seed scatterers like the Master, and repented of trying to deliver a huge, black enema or to dump a silo full of grain on an unsuspecting, sputtering world’s head.
Yep. Just wondering…