Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Run Home Jack! (think the movie Hook)

From the human point of view, God began the greatest chapter in his history of the universe when he created human beings uniquely in the divine image. What this means has been discussed and debated ever since. What is the "image of God"?

After getting to know me, you might say that I was a lot like my Dad. That wouldn't make sense if you did not know my Dad. Unless I had met my Dad or at least had a picture or some stories, your words would have no meaning for me.

I am more convinced that ever that the divine image is our capacity for relationship. While many philosophies and religions may concede that God is loving, Jesus Christ revealed a God who "is love." Take love out of God and nothing is left. God is powerful, but God is not Power. God is intelligent, but God is not Intelligence. God is everywhere, but God is not Everything.

This is the core of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. We have tried and failed to adequately define the roles and functions of the separate persons of the Godhead that we call Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We miss the point that the Three are One exist in a perfect unity of love and intimacy where the three remain distinct but also given over to a new oneness not possible to an independent monad.

This is what God shared with human beings -- the capacity to enter into intimacy with God and each other (Genesis 2). This is what humans lost when they decided they could do better on their own (Genesis 3). This is what God determined to restore through Jesus (II Corinthians 5:14-19).

What God created, God has also reconciled. The destiny of the human race is a renewed eternal relationship. Jesus said, "This is eternal life -- that they know God and Christ Jesus whom He has sent." (John 17:3) Salvation is not just a matter of the body escaping death or the soul escaping hell. Salvation is when the whole person escapes isolation and loneliness and enters into the joy of the Lord.

I feel that all of this may lead us to nod our heads in agreement. God wants more. He wants us to throw our arms wide and welcome Him and each other. This is not a doctrine to be defended but an experience to be entered and shared. God is the protagonist in the story that wants to receive and return the love of every antagonist.

How might this be described?

1. As the end of estrangement. This happens when forgiveness is granted and received. God forgave the entire human race across all of time when Jesus cried from the cross, "It is finished." There is nothing God holds against us any longer. It is we who now need to be reconciled to God. We are the one's who need to let go of what we have held against God all these years. All the hurts that happened and could have been stopped. All the questions that God has refused to answer and all the hoops that God would not jump through to please us. We need to forgive God.

2. As a re-alignment of the will. We reconcile ourselves to the righteous will of God. We no longer hold our will as a separate thing. We stop living at cross-purposes. Before we ask "what is your will for my life" we ask the question "what is Your will"? We fit our little lives into His big life. Our energy and resources get deposited into His bank for distribution for His glory and the greater good.

3. As an affection displayed. Reconciliation is a warm thing. The prodigal is welcomed. The ill is cured. The embarrassed is sheltered. It is to the Father's house that we return, not a bunk in a barracks. Our brother Christ is glad to see us and the Holy Spirit drapes the sky with color like the sunrise.

No wonder the Apostle Paul wrote, "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God!" (II Corinthians 5:20).

I can't think of a happier ending!

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