Have you ever had moments where someone more famous or more powerful than yourself said something only to realize that you had once thought/said the exact.same.thing. but with no one to validate it? Unfortunately the famous/powerful person just said it, so when you mention something to a friend like, “I thought that exact same thing when I…” they give you the sure you did wink & nod. No one believes you. You’re just left knowing that you made the Jerry McGuire “you complete me” is a lie observation before Oprah ever did.
This post is 98% to prove I had an original thought, just in case some famous author writes a book about it later. Just sayin.
So, it’s Christmas. It’s one of my favorite times of year, theologically-speaking. I know, I know, we’re supposed to be Easter People. That’s a good day as well, though it does involve getting up painstakingly early for the celebration. But candlelight and Silent Night? I’m not sure sure the world can hold more beauty.
I’ve also been captivated by the season’s celebration with incarnation. It’s a concept with which I hold a slight obsession. So much of our understanding is a God Out There Somewhere perspective, and Christmas is about the God Right Here Right Now. And, after much perseverating, I have bigger thoughts to accompany. Grab yourself a drink of water, this could be a long ride.
First, this season we celebrate God coming to earth as human. Fully divine. Fully human. Not 50/50, but 100/100. And I liken the power of God’s human nature to a year end evaluation at work. We’ve all had them – evaluations by people who say this or that could go better but who have never sat in the seat to make that happen. People so completely disengaged with the process or the situation, but yet readily offer solutions. There’s nothing more irritating. I think that’s a tad bit why some people don’t like the idea of God. “You don’t understand my life” gets in the way and God doesn’t have much… relevancy. But a God who had a mommy and needed fed and went to school and made friends – and enemies – while enduring pain and sorrow and joy… that God knows a bit what it’s like. That God might know what it’s like to scrounge for patience when a baby won’t stop crying or how to find joy in simplicity because you just don’t have the money for extravagance. That God might not be the top of his game until the second cup of coffee.
So, I really dig the fully human God. The incarnation. Stepping down into our world. At seminary a friend compared it to watching his son play hockey – a great joy. But getting on the ice to shoot around the puck? It’s a new level of relationship.
And now for the heretical part.
The other part of the equation is that Jesus was still fully divine. He maintained his divinity while on earth. While born of a woman, he came from God. Born of the holy spirit. On the whole, we’re pretty quick to latch on to this. In many discussions you’ll hear, “well, Jesus – being God – was perfect, so….” And this is where I’ve been pondering all day. You might want to draw a map.
The source of Jesus’ divinity was the holy spirit. Check. Right before his death and resurrection, he he made sure to explain: he’ll be coming back. I’d get out all the biblical references, but quite frankly I’m lazy and most people either a) know them, so they don’t care or b) don’t know hoot about them, and thus don’t care. But know that a part of Advent serves to remember Jesus’ coming and to keep with the idea that he’ll be coming again.
Well. A mere 40 days after raising from the dead, with a good celebration of disciples, the Holy Spirit descended upon them and brought power and authority (key words through the Gospels) to their teaching. When you begin to read up on the Holy Spirit, you find it’s kinda a big deal when it comes to living in harmony with The Way of Jesus. I was kindred to Romans 8 this morning (Message version).
So here comes the heresy. What if the second coming has happened? I know I’m not original in this thought, but I can’t seem to push it away. Jesus made all these references to coming again, but most seem in line with the Holy Spirit. Let’s not push aside the fact that this mere holy spirit is the very thing that made Jesus divine. He didn’t have magical powers. He lived by the spirit. He kept in step with God. It was his inherit nature.
But the Bible uses adoption language for us in Galatians. What if, though it’s not our inherit nature, it can be our adopted nature? Jesus had access and awareness of the holy spirit from Day 1. That sets him apart from us. But we have access and awareness of the holy spirit from today, onward. We have full rights at heirs. We are sons and daughters of the living God. I can go on and on with all those phrases printed on greeting cards and cross-stitched into pillows.
Raise your hands if you’re still with me.
What if? What if we play the Jesus as Divine card more often than the Jesus is Human card because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of what that might mean. If the very thing which made Jesus divine is actually living in us, then what excuse do we have for not living like it?
I’m starting to believe the anticipation of the Second Coming is just the Christian excuse for not living like God has already risen. God came once – twice, if you get on board with Pentecost as the second time idea – and we want him to come and clean up yet again before we start digging deep and living as if the Holy Spirit had meaning in our lives.
What if we love the idea of the Divine Jesus because he’s not like us – and therefore we have reason to not be like him? I once read the quote (and just now googled it) “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson.
So we sit, paralyzed by fear that we actually have access to the power to live changed lives, and thus change the lives of others around us.
But it’s Christmas. The season of incarnation – realizing that God invaded our world, our nature, and brought us out bearing his divine Spirit.