The Novel: A Novel: He Walks the Line

He lives a life peopled with persons swearing to know this embodied God. He marvels to hear it, for many of those peopling persons follow a path quite different from the Way, seeming to exist not to serve, but to be served, to receive and take and gather into barns.

He beats his breast and cries, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” They scowl and scoff and say, “Yes, you are!” He says, “I am but an unworthy servant, barely worth my wages.” They laugh and murmur, “You can say that again!” He says, “Here, you take the seat of honor,” and they say, “I’m glad you know your place!” “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled,” he reads. “But I’m a perfectionist!” they say.

They are not all of us, but sometimes, each of us is one of them. Sometimes, even he is one of them. We are children straddling the boundaries of a playground as we walk, reveling to be disobedient with every other step.

He lives a life peopled with persons beloved by this embodied God, and to that disembodied God as well. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The disembodied God shows God’s love by their very lives. The embodied God shows God’s love by giving His life for them.

But he is not God. The embodied God is only incidentally He. The disembodied God is neither He nor She. To insist on either is idolatry. The embodied God is incidentally He; it’s idolatrous to think the embodied God is necessarily He. Even so, the embodied God was necessarily Him, at the crossroads of history and humanity.

So having been told by God-enfleshed to love the other, love the enemy, treat each of them as he would want to be treated, he caters to his weak, sinful, needy, greedy self indirectly, vicariously, by instead catering to the weaknesses, sins, needs and greeds of them. He struggles to get this right, that seeming so wrong. He once thought he was casting his pearls before swine, but they are not swine and his gifts are not pearls. It dawns on him that what he’s actually doing is serving bacon to herbivores. Feed my sheep, but watch what you feed them.

Yes, he did see the motes in their eyes, but he struggles to remove the plank from his own. Don’t shoot till you see the motes in their eyes! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. No commas there, and good thing. Let him, who is without sin, cast the first stone. Let him, who is without, sin cast the first stone. Let him who is, without sin, cast the first stone.

Do they understand? Chances are slim. Does he? Odds are even slimmer.

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About Joel Tucker

Rev. Joel Tucker, an Ordained Minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), was a pastor at Tropical Sands Christian Church, from 2001 through 2017. He holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Auburn University. He entered ministry after 20 years in corporate communications and five years of computer programming. He was ordained on June 25, 2017.
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