“On that day you will realize that I am in the Father and you are in me, and I am in you.” –Jesus (John14:20 NIV).
I could not help but sense how absurd that statement should sound to anyone unfamiliar with the Spirit of God. In fact, that statement should make no sense to anyone who has not had an encounter with Christ himself.
Perhaps the risk factor in my writing just went up again, for how can anyone have an experience with a man dead for over 2000 years? Now I have the same challenge as the blind man in John 9:25, healed by some “stranger” named Jesus. When asked by the religious to explain his encounter, his words were simply, “all I know is I was blind and now I see.” His parents were also caught off guard, for they were of the same religion as those asking the hard questions. Not wanting to lose anymore positional power than necessary, their response was “we don’t know who did this to our son, ask him, he is old enough to answer for himself.” How’s that for being thrown under the bus by your Momma!
When I read the harsh comments from the growing number of men and women that the institutional church has now left in its dust, a generation ill-informed of the spiritual realities that do exist, I can understand. How could any believer expect these words to make sense to men and women who have not experienced God for themselves? Yet, we get “all in a wad” when criticized!
Just because it is in the scriptures, one cannot expect a post-Christian society to accept our text as truth, especially when flexed in the face of a very literate and rational world. In fact, the same challenges are facing other mono-theistic religions, and thus the horrific crimes perpetrated among those prone to use violence to proselyte.
You might recall that even Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, educated in the scriptures and very well-meaning, stood before the Christ totally confused. Jesus was neither scornful nor taken back by his inability to understand. It is from that conversation that John captured the great phrase, “except a man be born again.” We, the American Church may be the most absurd, when we expect of men what even Christ cautioned as impossible. Yet, his remedy of love also seems a bit far-fetched following on the heels of Old Testament writing; particularly if one reads of the warring escapades of the Kings or even the stories of more recent atrocities committed in the name of Christianity by our own religious zealots! Can we be honest about religion, was it ever God’s intent?
Jesus’ own humanity was tested in the temple, as pointed out by Ron Slater in today’s Readers Forum(1). The religious order of his day had simply become a trade, where men and women were preyed upon as they came to offer the sacrifices required by religious law. The House of Prayer, God’s original intent, had become a “den of thieves.”
This same Jesus, whom I believe was God, love incarnate, had come to place himself on the altar, forever arresting our fears of the punitive God portrayed by men yet to fully experience Him. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Again my risk factor has been compounded, even among Christians, for now I am using the love word, when fear has driven us to prefer war over the olive branch. “Love covers a multitude of sins”, a hard earned reality for Peter, the man who desperately tried to protect Jesus. God doesn’t need us to protect Him or His Word, but to simply live it. “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12 NIV).
Do we really believe this stuff? If so, despite the volley of slurs between political leaders, the earnest and sometimes not so earnest attempts of our religious leaders, and yes, in the face of horrific crimes against humanity in the name of God, may we, the children of God, simply live love loudly!
Absurdity? Not to me, for once I was blind and now I see.