FROM GOD’S FINGERPRINT NOVEL. . . by Samuel Junoi Samuel —Chapter 2
I’m very sure you’ll recognize some of the persons here who were also written in the I Corinthians letter of Paul.
The house of Chloe was warm in spite of the cold which had fallen over Corinth. This was a result of the fire-lamps which Gaius had stationed at different corners of the house so everyone could warm up themselves. She was still putting on John’s coat to stay warm, and he had gone out to talk with Crispus who was also a friend to Gaius. Jane chuckled at how loving John was and thought it would be nice to take him to Civilization with her.
She felt a gentle touch on her arm and turned to see who it was. It was John! She blew a sigh of relief, then put on a smile on her face.
“You scared me,” she laughed heartily.
“Did I?” John laughed as well, taking a seat beside her. “It’s been a cold morning, and after a long night as well. How are you feeling?”
“Warm,” She replied. “Thanks.”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” John laughed again. “It’s what I do most times, Jane. I was just talking to Crispus a while ago. He told me Paul would be visiting Corinth in a day or two.”
“Yeah. You know him?”
“I sure do,” she said, hiding her hands in the coat. “I have read his letters several times as a little girl and weeks back in the University. His writings aren’t so easy to understand.”
“Paul must really be so popular,” he joked, laughing as he glanced toward the people who sat round a camp fire outside the house. They were having discussions which produced repeated laughter among them.
“I’m so glad they are having a nice time together,” Jane sadly said. “I don’t know how my mom feels about me being away for a long time. I just wish I could write her.”
“We could help you with that,” John offered. “We have good writers here who can help. We’ll just deliver it to Civilization, hoping your mom will get it.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry,” she said, realizing he had no idea that Civilization wasn’t a country but a state of modernity.
How do I tell him? She thought.
“You don’t have to tell me,” he said. She thought he was replying her thoughts. “It’s okay with me if you don’t want to have it sent.”
“Yeah,” she chuckled, thinking of a good way to ask him what she thought she didn’t know about the Corinthian believers. While she was at Ephesus, she began to comprehend what she read in Paul’s letter to them by been there. Now, it was no different from Corinth. “Is it true the believers here almost broke into groups?”
John answered, “Yes, they almost did. Paul had to talk into it before he talked about anything else.” He turned to look at her. “Why did you ask?”
“Well, ahem, we have something like that in Civilization,” she replied. “The people here were upholding some ministers above others, saying they are of Paul; they follow Apollos or Peter. Back there in Civilization, we’ve got Christianity in thousands of factions, as Paul calls it; and it’s no longer amazing, now that I’m here. I see the difference.”
“Yeah, sometimes history does repeat itself. Only people who don’t understand that tend to repeat it,” John said.
“You’re right,” she agreed. “My mom had once told me that. We have Catholics, Pentecostals, Protestants and many larger groups, but there are also Calvinists who are followers of a French Protestant John Calvin. And there are Lutherans as well who base on the teachings of Luther.
“It’s making much difference now that I see Corinth.”
“What really caused that?”
“I believe they were once like this before they got one whole group with traditions before the Protestants broke away after the Orthodox, and then the Pentecostal as well.”
“We’re having new ones each day claiming they are the true Church but they don’t seem to live up to the life I see you folks living here.”
“Jane, it was all about love.”
“Love? I don’t get it each time you say that, John.”
“If there were no groups, Jane, there would be nothing to break away from; nothing to join, leave or start up. It was all about love. Jesus gave the body brothers and sisters who are more advanced on the journey to encourage them to focus more on their relationship with Jesus and fellowship with each other. It was never something they possessed but a reality they were part of. Division is the result of thinking these people are ours. No they are God’s. That’s why the believers in Antioch first called us Christians—they saw us following Christ, not each other. But we’re loving each other.”
“Which means the divisions we have in Civilization are results of trying to manage people?”
“Yes,” he answered. “When we take our eyes off of loving Him, we simply don’t realize we stop following Him. That’s why when Chloe told us they were already branding themselves as Paulians, Apollosians and Peterians, we did the best we could to deal with it before it got too tensed.”
“Well, that’s not so easy to do in Civilization,” Jane regretted.
“There are thousands of groups, John, each with their own beliefs,” she replied. “And those who stand up to help others see how divided factions has made us become are always tagged heretics speaking heresies. No one wants to listen.”
“It’s clear to me that most people talk like that, not because those men’s words are incorrect, but they just react out of how different it is from theirs. Everyone hold their interpretation so dear and use the Scripture to agree with them, rather than letting the Spirit open the truth in Scripture to them and agreeing with Him.”
“I never thought of that,” Jane confessed.
“When we replace love with our selfish attempts to protect our beliefs, there’s no loving way we can embrace each other. It would be like being friends as long as we know the same thing; not because we are learning to love others.
“Conformity doesn’t produce love, Jane. It leads us to togetherness as long as we conform to one particular system.”
“Oh I see. . . So that’s why the people were together when they agreed to the same tradition, and split into Protestant, Orthodox and others when they didn’t?”
“Exactly. And there would be togetherness if they would just come back and assume their place with those who love tradition.”
“That would also be based on conformity, not love,” Jane observed.
“And it wouldn’t last, Jane,” John continued, “When we stay together in love, our differences in opinions doesn’t qualify to divide our unity. Unity based on tradition or sameness in beliefs will always lead to factions when we fail to agree. It’s like breaking into different political parties since you don’t share the same interests. What happens when a people split into parties?”
“They’ll think of themselves more qualified as the real people to be elected, or the true ones to get more followers,” Jane replied, finally comparing it with Civilization’s attitude in Christianity. “I hate politics!”
“I do as well, but I love the people involved,” John said.
“Hm. . . What if we look past the branding to love one another again, without minding where people attend but simply loving and learning to follow Jesus together?”
“That would be awesome!” He commented. “But don’t think it’s going to be easy. There will be many who will turn their backs on you and call you ‘heretic’, but just remember that the manifestations of love aren’t often comprehended by people who carnally view fellowship with others.”
“Perhaps, talking them out of it will make it easy, wouldn’t it?”
“No, it won’t, Jane. You will only hurt as many people than you can imagine in the process of trying to force truth into people, or force people into truth. We can religiously do both thinking it helps, but it doesn’t.”
“Isn’t truth so important?” She asked, gently drawing her gaze to the kids dancing playfully outside the house.
“It is; but not the way you go about it. You’ve been taught to tell truth engaging endless argument. However, almost every time that doesn’t work. Love is the most important part of truth which means you can’t separate both—you need both. In fact, trying to convince people into leaving could indirectly be like opening doors to establishing your own group. At the end, when things get worse and they never really followed their hungers to leave but were persuaded to, there will be further enemies for you to look into, and more divisions to unfold.”
She sighed. “Blame Constantine!”
“Constantine? Who is he?” John asked; those loving eyes questioning her. “Is he from Civilization too?”
“No. . . I mean ‘yes’—he was,” she sniffed. “He’s the one who brought the whole thing. For many years, we met together organically, enjoyed fellowship as brothers and sisters without having branded organizations, but he unified Christianity and paganism together and. . .”
“That’s a big mess!” He sadly commented.
“You talk as if you were there,” she laughed. “But it was really a mess. We had the first building and we began attending each Sunday. He changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and his successor made attendance compulsory. It’s really nonsense now!”
“Of course,” she answered. “Those methods of Christianity still survive until today. If you attend regularly, you’re considered highly spiritual. Miss a day or a week, or even a month, you’re either a backslider or an unserious believer.”
“Then when you stop attending, it means you’re no longer Christian,” John said, drawing my attention to what I had never thought about. “And when you don’t attend their group anymore, most have to give you a little space. What happens when you get back?”
“It all gets to become normal,” she finally realized.
“No wonder we determine who knows God by their attendance to church meetings, or seriousness in keeping to quiet times and even covenants,” she said. “It looks weird now.”
“Yeah, it’s really weird,” John shook his head.
“If knowing God isn’t about these, John, what’s it about?”
“It’s about love again,” he said, to her surprise which gave way for a frown.
“That’s what it’s about?” She asked, so desperate. “Don’t we have to work so hard at it?”
“No,” he answered. “At least, not in the way you see it. You’ve been taught that knowing Him requires you try so desperately to put one or two things together, or join movements, Jane, but it’s nothing like that. If you want to know Him, enjoy loving Him and others just the way you realized He first loved you. It begins with Him—never us. Do you know that those who love are actually those who know Him?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Because God is love, Jane,” he continued, “If you know Him, you will love others in spite of their imperfections, failures and difference in beliefs. Loving others tells that you know Him.”
“Which means if I don’t love others, I don’t know Him?”
“I can’t believe it’s that simple! It’s so contrary to what we do in Civilization.”
“Yes, it is,” he agreed. “It’s love that determines who is God’s. Those who learn to live in His love find themselves growing and yearning to love others. This wouldn’t be in words but deeds as well. It does result to a desire to share his life with other believers as well.”
“I see,” she nodded, releasing a knowing sigh. “I don’t think I want to go back to Civilization again.”
“I just think it will be awesome staying here, rather than going back to live in that confusion.”
“If you run away from them, how will they ever find this out?” John asked, shrugging his shoulders. “What can I say? Besides, you need to get back to your mom.”
“Yeah. You’re right! I almost forgot that.”
“I guess you already did, Jane,” he said, getting up to reach for his overall. “I have to see some people some miles away and won’t be getting back until tomorrow.”
She stood up with him, trying to pull off the coat he had given her, so he could have it in case he needed it, but he wouldn’t take it. He let her keep it since it was really cold.
Copyright ©2017 Samuel Junoi Samuel
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