Who is God Really? Faith Hacking #1

Our faith bogs down when we don’t know who God really is.

Sometimes we think God is so distant that he can’t make a differences.  Or we think God is so vaguely everywhere that God is really nowhere at all.

But we need to hack these understandings of God, take what is good, get rid of what is not, and see that God is more and better than merely distant or vaguely everywhere.

A Distant Star?

A neighbor once asked me, “When you think about God, do you get a picture of an old man behind a desk running the universe?”

Have you ever thought that? Many of us have from time to time.

God is in charge.  God is in control.  God is important.  And in charge,  in control, important people tend to sit behind a desk.

And certainly the Bible tells us that God is sovereign over all things, that God is high and lifted up, that his ways are higher than our ways.

It’s like God is a distant star hanging in the heavens.  If we look up at God as we drift along the ocean of life then hopefully we can navigated by God’s distant light.

The Distant God

On the one hand we should affirm that God is in charge and in control.

But on the other hand, when the storms of life come, rocking our little boats back and forth, the “Distant God” provides little comfort in our terror.

This view of God can’t fill us with a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3) if he is so far away. Our faith easily becomes resigned and withdrawn. Our hope becomes shallow and depressed when God is so distant.

The Enveloping Cloud

In response to the “Distant God” we can over-compensate and think that God is everywhere all the time. We image that God is in everything, working through anything.

God is not a distant star. God is an enveloping cloud. God is close enough to touch, taste, and feel at every moment in life.

Floating on the ocean of life we don’t need to look up to the heavens for a guiding star.  God is all around we, tell ourselves. God is everywhere.

God is nowhere

Again, it is true that God is everywhere.  “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there” (Ps. 139:7-8).

But claiming to see God everywhere can obstruct our ability to distinguish the illuminating work of God from shadowy semblances.  This kind of thinking, when absolutized, fails to distinguish good from evil in the world.  It can become wishful thinking that just looks away from pain, hurt, or suffering.

The Gracious Gash in the Universe

Our faith needs to hack these two understandings of God. We need a better way of understanding who God really is.

God is not just distant.  And God is not just everywhere.

The truth is, God is coming to us. As Joshua Ryan Butler says, God is a pursuing God.


Let’s just look at the baptism of Jesus.

 

As Jesus was coming out of the water, he immediately sees the heavens torn apart and the Spirit of God descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Heavens Torn Apart

In the Bible, the tearing of the heavens meant God was coming down to save his people. “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down” cries Isaiah (Isaiah 64:1).

With the appearance of Jesus God is not distant. God is not an abstract entity off in space somewhere. God is coming down to us in Jesus, right now.

The Spirit Descended on Him

Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the waters of creation, now the Spirit hovers over the one emerging from the waters of the Jordan, the one who will confront chaos and darkness. 

Through Jesus God is beginning a new work of creation, tearing open a new possibility for a wandering and estranged world.

It is as if

God has ripped the heavens irrevocably apart at Jesus’ baptism, never to be shut again. Through this gracious gash in the universe, he has poured forth the Spirit into the earthly realm.”
(
Joel Marcus, Mark 1–8, Anchor Yale Bible, 165.)

Faith Hack: The God who comes to you

Can we hack our understanding of God to make room for the God who comes?

God is not merely distant. God is not merely everywhere.  God is coming to you.  And God is coming to rescue you where you are, to bring new creation right where you are.

God coming to us is not merely as aspect of who God is. It is the defining characteristic of God. God always longs to be present and intimate with his people, with you.

As John 3:16-17 says,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

How would your life of faith be different if you believed God is coming to you right now? Can you hack your faith to make it work better?

 

Don’t miss the other 4 “faith hacks” coming out the next couple of days. Subscribe and receive a free gift about how God’s glory and holiness doesn’t mean God hates us.


 If this post has been helpful or thought provoking, please consider sharing it. And please subscribe. Thanks.

Haunted House or War Zone: Does God Test Our Faith?

Now that we are saved, why aren’t things awesome all the time?  Why isn’t life one continuous ascent into the perfect life with God?

And why are we told that God is testing us?

As 1 Peter 1:6 says,

In this [salvation] you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Why would God test faith like that?

Answering this question properly all depends on how we image these tests. It depends on whether we think of life as in a haunted house or a war zone.

Is God Scaring us or Leading Us?

Ready to Jump Out

Our youngest son loves to scare people when they enter the house.  He will hide behind a doorway or some furniture, lying in wait.  And then he pounces. Sometimes he scares us. Sometimes not. Sometimes we see him getting into place. Sometimes we don’t.

It’s in all good fun.

Except when we think of God acting like this?

Sometimes we image our Christian lives as if God is lying in wait, ready to spring out and test us. We think that God is actively testing us, laying out traps to see if we will fall away or lose our faith.

Sometimes we think God is testing us to see if we really, Really, REALLY believe.  And if we fail the test then God is going to…well, who knows what will happen.

The Haunted House of Faith

Sometimes we can image our life of faith like a haunted house.  God is actively trying to scare us, jumping out unexpectedly and tripping us up.

But—as the idea goes—if we can get through without freaking out too much then we will be saved.   If we prove to God that we won’t doubt or run away then we will be saved.

But his image of God actively testing us is horrible—and inaccurate. This view of God lurking behind doors to test us distorts who really God is and how God is accomplishing salvation for us.

Ready to Rescue

Life is not an artificially created haunted house where we need to steel our nerves against any surprises.

Rather, life is better thought as a war zone.

We live in a war zone full of hazards and dangers.  And it is filled roaming spiritual forces seeking to destroy us.

But God, in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, has promised to rescue us from this war zone.  Not only is this promised, but God IS rescuing us and saving us as the one who has come to us and is leading us to safety.

And the only way out of this war zone is to stay close to Jesus, to stay on the straight and narrow path that will leads to life.

The Loyalty in the War Zone

And the question is this, Will you give your trust, your allegiance, your loyalty to Jesus who is rescuing us, who leading us through this war zone?

Or will you, when trials and suffering and sorrows come, will you abandon him for something else? Will you put your trust and loyalty somewhere else when the attack comes?

In this war zone of life, the genuineness of our faith will be tested. But not because God is creating ways to scare us. But because this war zone is already scary enough, and we have continual opportunities to break loyalty with Jesus.

Jesus has the power to save and rescue us. And Jesus is willing to protect us. Jesus is leading us to life.  Will we trust him? Will we place our faith in him?

The Testing of Faith

God is not testing our faith.
But our faith will be tested.

Our faith–allegiance in Jesus is the beginning of our rescue. And our faith–allegiance to Jesus will lead us safely home.

If this post has been helpful or thought provoking, please consider sharing it. And please subscribe. Thanks.

At-home-ment: Born Again in the Bible

We need to change our understanding of being born-again. And we need to change our emphasis on atonement.

“You’re a ‘born-again Christian’, right?”

I was asked this while at O’Mei, a fine dining Chinese restaurant I worked at through college.

My first thought was, Aren’t all Christians born-again?  But I said, “I don’t know. What do you mean?”

There, in the back room of O’Mei my religious understanding of Christianity in America changed.  My co-worker had just taken a sociology class on “Born-Again Christian Religion in America.”

But I didn’t know what a “Born-again Christian” was. I thought every Christian emphasized the need for adult conversion, the deep spiritual crisis brought on by consciousness of sin, resolved through faith in Jesus who died to forgiveness our sins.

In those years of college I was slowly learning that was an evangelical, a ‘born-again Christian’ who believed I needed to made a decision for Christ and believe with my heart in order to be saved.

Born-Again Atonement

Being ‘born-again’ roughly consists of two major movements (depending on which evangelist or tradition you come from).

First, you need to become aware of your sin and the consequences of sin.  This usually entails fiery illustrations used to scared the hell out of you, or to put the fear of hell in you.

Second, you needed to have faith in Jesus to forgive your sins because he had paid the penalty for your sins. He paid the penalty by dying on the cross as a substitute for us.

This is the “penal-substitutionary” view of the atonement (a theological word I wouldn’t learn until seminary a couple years later).

Atonement = At-one-ment

Atonement is a funny word.

It is an English word created—yes, it was created—in order to translate the Greek words for sacrifice for the King James Bible.

People often break up the word “atonement” as “at-one-ment” to emphasize how the sacrifices bring people into relationship with God. They are now “one” with God.

We usually think this is just a cute preaching device to teach a concept. But funny thing, this is EXACTLY what the word means!  It was created to mean coming to be “at-one” with God.

Trouble with Atonement

The trouble with focusing on the idea of atonement is that the process of often overwhelms the purpose.

We now have so many atonement theories, so many mechanisms for explaining what Christ’s death accomplishes, and so many disagreements about what is “most important”, that we often forget the goal of atonement.

And the goal of atonement is union with God, it is to live with God.

Born again into a new family

To be “born-again” is a fairly rare concept in the New Testament (though you might not know this in certain conservative circles).  It shows up in John 3:3-7 and in 1 Peter 1:3 and 1:23.

From use in evangelical circles “born again”, one might think it means individual salvation from the consequences of sin. But this is wrong.

Being “born again” is a family term.  It emphasizes one entering into a new family and living in a new household, a new home.  To be “born again” is to enter God’s new home and live with God.

At-home-ment

John H. Elliott says that one of the main themes in 1 Peter is the “at-home-ment” accomplished by God. In Jesus we can now approach God, live in God’s home, and call God Father.

Through God’s at-home-ment we live with God and God lives with us. 

Now, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that “God with us” is a major theme for me.  In fact, I think it is the theme the holds the entire Bible together, and indeed, it is the fabric of salvation itself—and the cosmos too.

(In fact, if you Subscribe to the blog I’ll send you the first chapter of a book I’m writing with my wife about all this “God with us” stuff.)

Two Things

So I submit before you two things for consideration.

  1. Being “born-again” is all about salvation, but not salvation through some atonement theory.  It is salvation through entrance into a new family and a new home.
  2. We should focus less on theories of atonement and more on practices of at-home-ment—”at home” with God and “at home” with one another.

How would a focus on at-home-ment change your understanding of the Gospel, of life, and the church? (Non-rhetorical question. I would love to hear your thoughts).


If this post has been helpful or thought provoking, please consider sharing it. Thanks.

Is Prayer the Answer to Shootings?

Responding with prayer is right (but not in the way you think).

The immediate reaction to shootings like the one in Las Vegas is to offer “thoughts and prayers.”  We make an image-card and post it on social media. And we say prayers for those grieving.

But the immediate response to this by progressives is to complain that “thoughts and prayers” are no help at all. “What we need is a change of laws,” they say.

The call to prayer—for so many—feels like an abdication for responsibility.

“Why pray when we know the problem and the solution?”
“Why pray for those grieving when we could have avoided this?”
“Why pray when we can go out and do something?”

And they have a point.

Is the call to prayer that we make just a platitude thrown around to sound more concerned than we are? Is the promise to pray just a vacuous statement signaling how compassionate we are (or would like to seem to be)?

Even if it is genuine, even if we are pleading before God for mercy with countless other, is there more we could be doing?

I say, No.  We should keep praying.

We should pray without ceasing.

Prayer without ceasing

Paul tells us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  But what does mean to pray without ceasing? How can you pray without ceasing if you have to go about your regular life?

 

One view of “praying without ceasing” understands all our loving connections with others as a type of prayer, a kind of connection with God.  All our good works and compassionate acts constitute our praying without ceasing.

Prayers for those affected by violence

So we should offer prayers to God for all who suffer from these shootings.

And we should do this by acting compassionately and by seeking justice on behalf of these and future victims. Part of our praying without ceasing is to advocate for a change in the gun laws in America.

Prayers against the spiritual forces of violence

But I’m not siding with the progressives by redefining prayer as merely political action.  I don’t think the answer to all of life’s problems can be fixed through government regulation.  It can’t.

It doesn’t seem like anyone has the will to change our gun laws. And as one has said, “You can’t regulate against evil.

Many progressives have thrown up their hands in despair over the possibility of changing our guns laws.

And this is exactly why we should pray! 

As Paul reminds, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

So Let us Pray

To all progressives calling for us to stop praying and instead take up the cause for gun regulation, I say, “No way! Without prayer this cause is lost.”

Today, may we pray for those who grieve, for those in pain, for those who lost a loved one.  May we pray without ceasing in seeking justice and righteousness in the laws of our land. And may we pray to overcome the cosmic powers of darkness and evil.

So by all means, please pray.

Why Did Kaepernick Bring Politics Into Sports?

“I watch football so I don’t have to think about politics.”

Many people express this sentiment when it comes to sports and entertainment.  I recently heard it again in reference to President Trump’s weekend remarks about NFL players who protest police violence against African Americans by kneeling during the national anthem.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s remarks prompted various responses from NFL players, coaches, owners and fans.

In the wake of all this many lament how politicized sports has become.

Isn’t this supposed to be mindless entertainment?
A reprieve from divisive politics?

But sports have always been politicized!

The idea that these black athletes are politicizing sporting events is seriously narrow-sighted.  All of our national sporting events are already political.

The act of playing the national anthem, of standing in attention, is already a political statement. We are just so normalized to it that we have forgotten.

The U.S. military spends millions of dollars to fly over stadiums, to send service people to events, to run commercials during broadcasts.

And why do they do that.  They aren’t just recruiting.

They are actively associating American leisure time, American relaxation, American freedom, with the American military.  The wrapping of these symbols of American military power and freedom around sporting entertainment equates the two.

AND IT’S OBVIOUSLY WORKING.

It is working because people have now forgotten that these events are already politicized, or more specifically, they are nationalized.  Sporting events have been equated with supporting the nation itself and the U.S. military.

The idea goes like this:

  1. Because of the U.S. military you are safe.
  2. Because you are safe you can relax.
  3. Because you can relax you can enjoy some entertainment.
  4. And while you enjoy your entertainment we will remind you why you are safe, but playing the national anthem.

Now those aren’t necessarily bad things to think or support or approve of.

But Colin Kaepernick says people like him don’t feel safe

And last year, LAST YEAR, Colin Kaepernick wants to state that African American don’t feel safe in America.  So he decides to take a knee during the national anthem.

During the time that we celebrate our safety (the national anthem) is the moment Kaepernick chooses to say, “I don’t feel safe.”

His idea goes like this:

  1. I and my people don’t feel safe.
  2. We cannot relax and enjoy our lives like many other people can in America.
  3. To draw attention to this I will not stand during the symbol that expresses national safety (the national anthem).

This is a very sauve political maneuver. And it has upset many people.

So please, don’t complain about politics.

Maybe you disagree with Kaepernick and others about the extent of police brutality or harsh tactics. Maybe you disagree with Kaepernick about the choice of venue for his protest.  Maybe you disagree with all of that and more.

But please, don’t complain about politics ruining sports.

Politics and sports have always mixed.

The real question is whether or not you support the politics of the various people involved.

Here are some links to great posts about the mixing of politics, sports, and race. 


(This post it is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)

Love without thinking?

Think before you act.

Don’t just act. Don’t just react.
Slow down, think it through, reflect and plan.

We are all told this.  It’s what I tell me kids.

But is this right?

Thought wastes time. It’s dangerous.

Thought takes time.  And it takes energy.  The more you think the more blood your brain needs, and the more calories you burn.  That’s why you feel tired when you think too much.

And thought is literally dangerous (not figuratively).

At the dawn of humanity, to think instead of react means you’ll miss your meal. To think instead of react is to become a meal!

Acting is survival. Thinking is leisure.
Acting is necessary. Thinking is optional.

Trust Your Training

Athletes and the military constantly practice and train.  Practicing repetitive movements programs their bodies—and minds—to act automatically. They act without reflection or hesitation.

They train so that in every situation they are not thinking, but only reacting.

“Trust your training” is a motto for both athletics and the military. Trust your repetitive actions.  Don’t think about it!  When things get intense, don’t think about winning or losing, living or dying.

Just execute your training.
Act automatically.

Can Love Become Automatic?

Can love become automatic?
Can mercy become unconscious?
Can grace become unthinking?

Love seems the opposite of our natural instincts. Love seems opposed to our programmed prejudices.  All our mental short cuts—all those unthinking thoughts that speed us through the day, from surviving as a hunter-gatherer to succeeding as a city dweller—seem to work against the deep and profound call of love.

But, on the other hand, if other activities can become unconscious and unthinking through practice, why can’t love be without thinking?

With practice we can use thought, focus, intention, and intensity to train our brains and our bodies to love unconsciously, to love unconditionally.

Love takes practice

As pastor Juliet Waite preached on Sunday at Life on the Vine, surrendering to God’s love is not passive.

Surrendering to God’s love takes work. It takes practice. It takes focused effort and intention.

And with that training, the training to surrender to God’s love, comes the ability to love automatically, to love without thinking.

Love without thinking

To love without thinking is to care for one without considering the cost to oneself.

To love without thinking is to stand for justice without wondering how it will effect you.

To love without thinking is to offer yourself without calculating a return on investment.

To love without thinking is probably as close to loving unconditionally as we will ever get.


(This post it is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)

The Other Bridge Illustration: Visual Christus Victor

For all those visual learners who need to see it to understand it. This is the “Other Bridge Illustration.” And yes, I drew these while at Starbucks.

(David Fitch and I did an entire podcast on this topic if you are interested.)

The Original Bridge Illustration

But first we must talk about the Original Bridge Illustration, that staple of evangelism in my corner of evangelicalism.

The Original Bridge Illustration (pardon my drawing)

This is how I was taught to explain it.

On one side is humanity. Humanity sins (Rom. 3:23). And the wages of sin—what you earn—is death (Rom. 6:23). So “sin”, “wages”, and “death” mark the cliff separating humanity from God.

But on God’s side, God chooses to forgive our sin, which is a gift of grace—not earned like wages.  And this gift leads to life (Rom. 6:23).  So “forgiveness”, “gift”, and “life” are on God’s side.

The death of Jesus—his cross—becomes the bridge by which we cross over from sin and death and receive forgiveness and life.

We cross over to God through the cross of Jesus.

Simple, right?

Problems with this Bridge Illustration

Often—but not always—this presentation of salvation emphasizes individual sin and individual responsibility and individual salvation (notice a theme?).  It also assumes a movement from the side of humanity (on “earth”) to God’s side (in “heaven”).

Also, this view, when unpacked, usually holds to certain understandings of God’s wrath against humanity and how Jesus’s death satisfies God’s wrath so that we can avoid hell fire (drawn at the bottom of the chasm—too bad I didn’t have a red sharpie).

And lastly, this view can lead to truncated understanding that “Jesus came to die” or “Jesus was born to die“—which I regularly hear on Facebook or Twitter when I emphasize the significance of Jesus’s ministry or the kingdom of God.

The Other Bridge Illustration

But humanity IS separated from God.
Something needs to be done.
We need salvation.

So here is the Other Bridge Illustration.

The Other Bridge Illustration (the bridge if made of stones, if you couldn’t tell)

On one side is humanity. We are within the kingdom (or reign) of death (Rom. 5:14-17). We are slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17).  And we are captives of the powers (Col. 1:13).

But on God’s side is the kingdom of life, the redemption from sin, and liberation from the powers.

The bridge is made of three stones—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (I don’t know why stones. It’s just what came to me).

God coming to us.

But here is the main twist.
Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God is coming to us.

God comes from heaven to earth. God comes to the damned and the sinners. God comes to the enslaved and captives. God comes to seek and save the lost.

The totality of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection witnesses to this. 

Salvation comes to where we are. And this has always been the case. From Genesis to Revelation, God seeks to dwell with humanity. And God is pursuing humanity, bridging every divide, overcoming every obstacle.

This is the victory of God—not that we leave the place of sin and death, but that God overcomes by coming to our place of need, of desperation, of death.

Both/And…ish

To be fair, parts of the Original Bridge Illustration are true and we shouldn’t ignore them.  But we must place them in the larger context of the Other Bridge Illustration—The Christus Victor Illustration.

What needs to be added?

What would you add to make this better?

(I want to figure out the best was to add the Holy Spirit to this illustration.)


(This post it is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days [BUT I WENT WAY OVER TODAY].  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)

4 Reasons Salvation is Coming…Not Going

Going Home

Believe it or not, in eighth grade I wrote a song called “Home.”

It was all about “going home” to heaven, finally being with God.  It was actually pretty good. In was an 8-bar blues song in the key of “C” with decent lyrics (for an 8th grader). I can still play it on guitar, but I’ve lost all the words—I’m sure you bummed.

Of course, given my evangelical-fundamentalist upbringing it is no surprise I viewed salvation as going home to heaven.  The Rapture was going to whisk us all away. The earth was going to burn. And we needed to get everyone into the raft before Jesus came back and all was lost (yes, I know that is mixing metaphors of flood and fire, but hey, that’s what I was given).

Of course there are passages of the Bible that seem to suggest this—that we will leave this place and go somewhere else.

And for many that is GOOD NEWS.  Because, well, this place can kind of stink.  Many people can not find a home, a place to belong, or a place for love and welcome.

So, we’re going home!

Coming Home

But what if we aren’t going home.

 What if our home is coming to us?  

What if God had always made earth our home and will make it our home again?

This would fundamentally change the direction of salvation. Salvation is not about “us getting back to God” with a little help from God. Rather, it’s about “God coming back to us.”

So, really quick, here are 4 reason salvation is “coming”, not “going.”

4 Reasons Salvation is Coming

  1. The Biblical Bookends Say So

    Genesis opens with God creating a home for humanity in God’s presence. And this home is here.  God created all things as a cosmic-temple of his presence. In addition to this, God walked and talked with humanity in the garden-temple of his presence. 
    And in Revelation, at the end of all things, we hear of heaven coming down to earth. And heaven comes so that God can dwell with humanity forever.If heaven is the place God lives, then every passage that speaks of heaven as somewhere else must be provisional, not final.
  2. God comes to Israel With the call of Abraham and the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, to the building of the tabernacle and temple, God comes to his chosen people. And when God comes there is salvation and life.The entire life of Israel is marked out by the fact that God lives with them. The sole purpose of the Law was to facilitate the presence of God among his people.
  3. Jesus is the who comes as sentJesus, the Son of God, is sent to us as one of us. He comes to “dwell among” us as the “tabernacle” of God (John 1:14).  Jesus comes declaring the kingdom of God and his ministry makes it present. In Jesus, heaven is coming to earth in forgiveness, in healings from sickness, in deliverance from the powers.In Jesus salvation has come to us.
  4. The Church comes as sentAnd finally, like it or not, the church comes with the presence of God.It is no small thing that they church is called the “body of Christ” or the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”  These both indicate the place where God dwells (in a primary sense, although God of course is in all places and times—which is a comfort to all who suffer in secret).

Home Coming

The real question is, Are you welcoming God home in your life right now?

And the next question is, Are you living as a home for others?


(This post it is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)

Be More Interesting, Get Angry

If I were angry then I would be interesting.
And if I were outraged I’d have something to say.
And if I have a complaint, well, then I would complain.

Then I would be interesting too.
I’d have opinions, information, enemies, and allies.

Because anger propels opinions and information.
Anger generates enemies and allies.

And all of this is so interesting!

Anger is bold, original, and inspiring.  It isn’t complacent, commonplace, or cooped up. Anger is free and unencumbered, standing against the status quo.

Anger challenges the system, sticking it to the man, daring to speak the truth—whatever truth that might be.

And all of this is quite entertaining—even if you disagree.

Especially if you disagree!

If you are repulsed by inane anger, if you’re above all that ignorant rage, then you too will be interesting.

Just point furiously point out every idiot around you, their faulty assumptions and their flawed logic.  Marshall your powerful insight to expose . Deploy your superior intellect to destroy the inferior imbeciles.

That’s how you find what to say, by focusing on what you are angry about.

So much to say.

Even when you have nothing original, constructive, or creative to say, you can angrily talk about what others are angrily talking about and—presto!—Now you are interesting, now you have a following, now you have an audience.

Why so angry?

Sure, you can ask this.

But, I say, “Why aren’t you more angry?”

There is so much to be angry about. The unacknowledged micro-aggression, the essential doctrine that’s been rejected, the slippery slope someone’s falling down, the privilege that’s been overlooked, or the slight that needs to be rectified.

Yes, especially the affronts that require a retaliation.  Those are the most interesting.

And interesting is what we’re after, right?

Otherwise we’d be so bored, with nothing to click on, nothing to skim through, nothing to be marginally informed about, informed enough to get angry about.

So, I’d be more interesting if I were angry. And then you would listen to me. And I would be someone.

If I could just be someone…


(This post it is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)

Human for Our Sake: 3 Reasons Jesus’s Humanity is Important

Forgetting Jesus’s Humanity

When we don’t remember the humanity of Jesus we tend to forget our own.

Pastors and theologians are quick to emphasize the humanity of Jesus, that he is the full revelation of God, that he manifests God’s glory, that he embodies God’s presence in the world—all of which I of course agree with.

But when we emphasize these to the neglect of Jesus’s humanity we miss fertile pastoral and theological ground.  When Jesus’s humanity is only an instrument—a disposable one?—then we tip toward an instrumental view of our own humanity. Or worse, we can view others this way.

Here are three reasons the humanity is just as important as his divinity.

3 Reasons for the Humanity of Jesus

1) God is fully with humanity.

God fully with humanity, in fellowship and friendship, and intimacy and intensity, was always the God’s plan. The incarnation was not “plan B” after the Fall. While it would take a bit to unpack biblically, God’s plan for creation and humanity was always to dwell with humanity. This is the story from Genesis to Revelation.

And it only makes sense that this full dwelling of God among humanity would include the incarnation of God at some time.  The course of humanity placed it firmly in the realm of death and destruction. And for that reason the incarnation also included the crucifixion (and resurrection!). But that was not the plan. But the plan was always to be come human.

Affirming the humanity of Jesus means affirming God’s full intention to dwell with us—not up in heaven, but down here on earth.

2) Salvation is in and through humanity.

As the classical formula goes, “What is no assumed is not saved.” If Jesus is not fully human then who and what we are is not fully saved.

If Jesus is not fully human then Jesus only saves a part of us.  And too often this some “spiritual” part. If God only saves the spiritual part of us then we can dispose of our bodies, of our those parts we are ashamed of, those parts that don’t make the cut. This means salvation leaves out entire areas of our lives.

But if Jesus was fully human then there is hope and redemption for everything about us. Nothing is “too human” for God to renew.

3) God is always working through humanity.

That Jesus if fully human reminds us that God is always working through humanity. Humanity is the chose means by which God gets things done.  From Adam, to Abraham, to all of Israel, God’s chosen means of working is through humanity.

And not just generic humanity. But specific humanity. God calls Abraham from his home. God raises up Israel and places Israel in a specific place. God is born in a Jewish body. I could do on.

And not only specific humanity, but the marginal, the meek, the powerless.

Human for our sake

So God takes on our skin of flesh, as Augustine says. God, who once provided Adam and Eve with “garments of skin” (Gen. 3:21), now takes on the garment of human flesh. Not so that he can then take it off later and save us all from our humanity.

No!

Jesus comes not to save us FROM  our humanity, but saves us FOR our humanity.

Questions:

How have you seen the neglect of Jesus’s humanity?
What have been the practical and pastoral results?
What are other reasons we must keep the humanity of Jesus before us?


(This post it is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)