I started this week’s spiritual reflection post knowing that I had to leave work a few hours early on Wednesday and had to work my full shift after shoveling out my driveway on Thursday.
Now it’s Friday. I had to go to work today and after that, five workdays left on my two week notice at my present job. After that, it is all writing, all the time. Also housework.
I will be doing copywriting for cash – and to keep my brain busy. Mostly, though, I plan to use my “free time” to pray and Think About Everything while working on a novel. My novels are my way of working through spiritual issues. I get bored with the plot once I uncover what I really want to know: how can the true God truly and entirely be manifest here in finite time – in yet another way.
Plots are hard.
Divinity is simple.
I just finished listening to a pop theology book by my favorite modern scripture scholar: N.T. Wright. The book is called How God Became King. If that title doesn’t make you grin and go … okay N.T. Wright, very funny, then you are a normal person who does not think like me. Be glad for that.
If you’ve never read N.T. Wright, then first of all what are you waiting for? Second, in every piece I’ve ever read by him he has a grand old time taking a middle road between what we might term “liberal” and “conservative” Christianity. I tend to think of his work as simply true, with occasional artful flourishes that he cannot possibly expect anyone to take seriously. That title for example.
Back in my twenties, when I was still doing the theological debate thing, I remember getting into this argument with an online Muslim group about the incarnation. They brought up these two guys called Athanasius and Arius – and seemed shocked I had never heard of either one. Long story short, God led me to not worry about names and terms – because there are a lot of terms for things, but to think deeply about the ideas behind those terms – and why those ideas bother us so much.
I decided that it was worse to over-emphasize Christ’s divinity than to over-emphasize his humanity. Because….
Pause. Drink some hot cocoa.
From what I can make out, no one actually knows what “divinity” is, not in a way we can express in human language. I know what it is, because I know God.
Knowing God does not require a Ph.D. in esoteric lit. You don’t have to be a guy or a girl or non-binary or trans to Really Get It. You don’t need a car or a house or to be 18 years or older.
Divinity is simple, if it is anything at all. I glance suspiciously at your mountain of books that I allegedly need to read in order to get it. That sounds to me like paperwork, red-tape, and possibly something someone very well-meaning made up and wrote down.
God is very simple. Anything else is probably a lie. If your idea of God and divinity takes more than half a breath to capture in your mind, it is probably a lie, probably from the devil (just saying it like it is).
That’s because 1) it is probably a pride thing and 2) the peripherals are not God. Yes, God is – among other things – manifest in time and space as all-powerful and omnipotent, but above and before all God is God, the loving, energetic force who is (three people co-existing as) one. You know what I mean?
I think everyone basically knows, even if we don’t know what it is that we know, because our language – including our internal concepts – vary widely. I feel like in most conversations, if we go on long enough, I wind up at this point where people will at least agree to disagree, where even the most rabid atheist will say something like, okay, well if X happens (it won’t!) then I will believe Y – that there is a God. I think – okay, challenge accepted. Next?
Jesus was fully human. We know what it means to be human. We are human.
Jesus was also fully divine. We don’t know what that means, not really, because none of us are actually God – not in the sense that he is.
I stand by that assessment to this day.
Also, in talking to Muslims, I came to understand that they are far more upset about racism and invasion of their land than about what we may or may not believe about God. To me that is where we whiffed evangelization. In a well, duh sort of way. God loved us so much that he sent his only son. Now give us X amount of land for our use or die.
To this day, I tend to associate anti-christian arguments that Jesus wasn’t really God with people who don’t so much have a problem with his divinity as such, as they seem to be arguing against some *idea* of God, often a bad one. Many believers seems to think because God “became” human, and we believe in *that* God, then (and here the logic gets convoluted) we should have power over less godly people while we “evangelize” them for their own good. All of which makes me want to tell everyone to go sit in the corner for a while.
I believe Jesus is God. I understand why a lot of people don’t and why my fellow believers have soured them to the idea of God, because … yeah.
That’s what makes the N.T. Wright book funny. Its title: How God Became King is a bit of a wink at the reader and is poking more than a little fun at the neo-platonic view of God as immutable without ever crossing the line into “process theology” (where God is affected by external reality in some sense). I mean, is God really in charge of creation? If God ever was, then God is now. God doesn’t “become” anything other than God.
And – human beings have still not unilaterally crowned him – yet. Any day now, I’m sure.
Human beings are the ones who need to acknowledge God’s authority as king, for OUR sake. And that is still obviously very much a work in progress. I continue to have … so many questions about that.
If we waste all our time on philosophical Towers of Babel that – I’m sorry – but they are NEVER going to get us to heaven, we miss the real and highly accessible route that Jesus has mapped out for us. God has condescended to help us. Now, let’s “condescend” to help one another, whether that means slaving over the philosophical treatises that help define our basis for thinking thoughts or being there for the least of these.
Or … whatever. I will sit here and play with this Squeezamal some more. After all, I’m just a girl. What do I know???