In the Belly of the Beasts … As Jesus and Mack head back across the water, Mack confides that he has always been troubled by the idea of Missy all alone with her abductor. Jesus explains that she wasn’t alone; he was with her the whole time and that as they talked she gained great peace and even prayed for her family during that time.
Their talk then turned to the institutions of politics, religion and marriage. Jesus pointed out that he has never been fond of institutions, he is all about relationships. He doesn’t want religious service, but people who love him and are in relationship with him. He also explained that not all religions are roads that lead to him, but that he would travel any road to find and redeem the lost.
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“The Shack – Chp. 12 – In the Belly of the Beasts” Show Notes
As Mack leaves the waterfall, he again encounters Jesus, who is skipping stones across the water. Jesus asks Mack if he enjoyed his time with Sophia. Sophia is the name of the woman that Mack met behind the waterfall. “Sophia” is the Old Testament name for the personification of God’s wisdom. It is one of the ways in which the Old Testament depicts God’s presence and work among us. You are not too far off if you think of “Sophia” as a name for the Holy Spirit.
Mack is surprised to learn how little time elapsed while he was behind the waterfall. Jesus tells him that with Sarayu, time presents no boundaries. This seems to be a way by saying that God exists outside time and can enter into time and move within time as God needs, to accomplish God’s purposes. Mack wants to know how “real” was the time with the children and Jesus at the waterfall. Jesus tells Mack that it was “very much real, far more real than life as you’ve known it.” Here, we are again reminded that the kingdom of God is quite real. Whether you call it the kingdom of God or heaven or God’s realm, it is the most real reality.
Mack then wants to know more about Missy after she was taken. How did she feel? Was she terrified? Was she alone? Did she feel abandoned? Jesus tells him that she was never alone. After Missy got over her shock, Sarayu wrapped herself around the six-year old and Missy settled down. There was a long ride that gave Missy and God a chance to talk. Missy prayed for Mack and for his peace. It is all overwhelming for Mack, and he breaks down into tears.
Mack and Jesus then head back across the lake and Mack thanks them for talking about Missy. They then talk about all of the fears and lies and regrets that we tend to locked deep within ourselves. It is only in genuine, loving, trusting relationships with God and with one another that we can be safe enough to release all of our secrets and lies. Mack then asks Jesus if he got a glimpse into Heaven back at the waterfall. Jesus tells him “our final destiny is not the picture of Heaven that you have stuck in your head.” Mack asks him, “what about all the pearly gates and gold stuff?” Jesus tells him that those images are pictures of Jesus and “the woman I’m in love with . . . It is a picture of my bride, the church: individuals who together form a spiritual city with the living river flowing through the middle, and on both shores trees grow with fruit that will heal the hurt and sorrows of the nation. And this city is always open, and each gate into it is made of a single pearl . . . that would be me!”
This image of the church is taken from the closing chapters of Revelation. Mack and Jesus then get into a long discussion about the Church (the body of Christ, the fellowship of believers) and the institutional church, which some would call “religion.” Jesus says, for example, “I don’t create institutions… never have, never will.”
This discussion goes on for a long time, relationships versus institutions. And it’s certainly appropriate to be reminded of what God really wants from us and hopes for us. Mack tells Jesus that, sitting there on the dock with him, none of this seems that hard. But when he thinks about his “regular life back home,” it just seems pretty overwhelming. Mack doesn’t know how we could possibly change it all. Jesus tells Mack that this isn’t his work, that it is Sarayu’s task, that the whole thing is a process, not an event. “All I want from you,” Jesus says,” “is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love that I share with you. It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda.”
In closing, Jesus tells Mack, “Those who love me come from every system that exists . . . I have no desire to make them Christian. But I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.” Mack asks if that means all roads lead to Jesus. Jesus answers, no, most roads don’t lead anywhere, but Jesus will travel any road to find us.
“The Shack – Chp. 12 – In the Belly of the Beasts” Episode Resources
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