I often talk like I see God as sort of a powerful, benevolent Santa Claus. But actually, my pitifully limited human comprehension is probably more like Star Wars’ the Force outside and within us.
So, as a great fan of Jesus, how do I understand his description of God as Abba, ‘Daddy,’ and his frequent conversations with Him? And what is the role Jesus plays in all this?
First, I think Jesus ‘Got’ God. And tried to communicate to us that the creative force behind the universe was not only still alive and involved doing the creating thing all around us, but also still nurturing an unfinished universe and unfinished humanity from the inside out.
All of the universe, including humanity, is one. And the Whole (God) is greater than the sum of the parts. Whatever this creative force that we call God is, it is “on our side,” because we are part of it. But when we see ourselves as separate from, better than, stronger than, richer than, safer than, in other words, predators of the rest of the universe, we are in civil war and the synergy breaks down.
When we watch Jesus grow in truth (understanding) and holiness (response), we see a dance between the divine and the human. God leads and we follow and Jesus not only told us how, he showed us how. The scriptures are the ‘illustrated’ word of God. And Jesus is the illustration.
He is the blueprint for human change from survival of the fittest to a love that makes us willing to die for the least. He also fleshed out the end that humanity was created to reach, oneness with God through surrender to God who is Love.
Watch the dance.
Jesus is humanly vulnerable from the very beginning: his family fleeing in the dark of night to Egypt to escape Herod’s search to kill Jesus.
Jesus becoming an adolescent, showing off his new knowledge and sense of who he is in the temple, only to be reminded by his mother that kindness, considering others, is what he is being called to learn at this point in his life, then his responding by being obedient to his human parents and growing in understanding .
Jesus grows not only in knowledge, but in wisdom, as he recognizes the other side of knowledge and power: the willingness to respond rather than react (letting go of control of his life) and the vulnerability of a loving response. He’s now not quite so eager to leap into the public eye. Then circumstances and his mother’s challenge to kindness again push him out of his comfort zone. (The wedding at Cana.)
Watch the pattern in Jesus life and ministry: Challenges to take his mission to a new level, beyond Judaism – even to the enemy, responding with the healing power of Love, teaching love to those who were drawn by the miracles of healing and nurture, rejection by those without ears to hear, temptation to earthly power even from his friends, and time and time again seeking the grace of time alone with God.
Jesus snapping at Peter for being a Pollyanna about how his mission will end, showed that Jesus himself was still struggling with his own acceptance of that reality. Like us, he did not move easily through challenges from stage to stage. But he always reached a point where God alone was his source and his salvation, up to the very end when he moves from the very human “My God why have you forsaken me?” to the spiritual freedom of “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Ahh, that’s better! Oneness with God.
What is Jesus role for us? To flesh out the Love that is God. A Love we can trust with our lives. A Love that saves us from our separation from the Whole. Accepting Jesus as the Love of God for us is our salvation. And Jesus illustrated step by step the dance between the love of God and our growing response of surrender to God (Love) to become the people we were created to be. Jesus, as the Love of God, frees us to accept our role, however humble, as an inseparable part of the Whole. When we follow Jesus as our blueprint, he is our Lord.
His life and death and resurrection were not only proof that there is more than this life, but that it depends on our dance of grace that ends in trust, in total surrender to the creative power, the Love that is God, however we perceive God. In His hands we are One.