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Christianity -- One of the Oldest Games of Telephone?

Remember the game "telephone," in which one person whispers something to someone, who then whispers it to another, and the message is passed on down the line until the last person, who then announces the message out loud to the group?

Because errors accumulate each time the message is passed along, what is said at the very end is often hilariously different than the original message.

Or have you ever played the related game "broken picture telephone," where someone writes something on a post-it, and the next person has to draw what has been written, and then the next person has to describe what has been drawn?

In the above example, "a car at the mechanic" becomes, in only 11 steps, "I bring you flowers and I have blue pants." 

Makes me wonder if Christianity is one of the oldest games of telephone.

In Sunday's gospel, Jesus said,

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

It's a simple opening statement:

Jesus said

1) love one another the way he loved us. And 
2) people will know we are Christians by our love.

The earliest Christians painted imperfect images of that message -- the early church -- in their lives. 

Luke wrote down what he saw in The Book of Acts.

Other Christians tried painting images of church based on Luke-Acts. Accounts of those churches got written down, which resulted in more drawings, and more summaries.

If "a car at the mechanic" can become, in only 11 steps, "I bring you flowers and I have blue pants," is it any wonder that "love one another the way I love you and people will know you are Christians by your love" can become, over 2000+ years, everything from love-filled Mother Teresa serving the poorest of the poor to hate-filled people picketing veterans' funerals with "God Hates Fags" signs?

Come to think of it, isn't the real miracle, the real surprise, the fact that after all those years of broken picture telephone, some Christians still get the original message?

So -- you know I'm going to say it -- that's why daily Bible study is so important. That's why it's so important to go back, on a daily basis, and read the original message (or, more accurately, that which comes as close as we can to it). Don't rely solely (or even primarily) on what a hierarchical, power-hungry, neutered, tamed, trained, in-love-with-itself religious institution is telling you about who Jesus is and what Jesus said. Read it for yourself.

And -- you know I'm going to say it -- that's why daily private prayer is so important. That's why it's so important to find daily solitude, to "go into your room, shut your door," and pray to God in secret. Don't rely solely (or even primarily) on ordained clergy, already-written prayers, or structured, formal times of worship for the basis of your relationship with Jesus. Take time to develop, and become more and more conversationally intimate with God, yourself.

That way, "love one another the way I love you and people will know you are Christians by your love" might have a better chance of getting painted, in your life, as something pretty close to "love one another the way I love you and people will know you are a Christian by your love.”


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