God has always been with us. He has never been apart from us. His everywhere is so unmistakable and incredible that to put Him elsewhere is unimaginable. How could the one who holds all things together be apart from what He holds together. If He is actively participating in the maintenance and sustaining of His masterpiece then His presence is a necessary condition to the inner workings of the living universe. Perhaps this is the very truth that was missed (or rejected) in fear-of-the-unknown projected by the limited mind.
When we fell we substituted infinite wisdom drawn from the source of life with finite observations based on fallen experience. We saw God as a better image of ourselves when we are actually the intended-recipient-vessels of Him. Our likeness was the fertile soil for the seed planted by Jesus himself. The knowledge of good and evil birthed artificial boundaries for a finite mankind-perspective of an infinite God. We hid and rejected and denied and turned away from a God that is everywhere. We reconciled our limited abilities and managed our irrational fear by creating in our minds a mythical god on a throne who was far far away. We gave him lightning bolts and instruments of sacrifice which of course a man-projected God would have. This god of our imagination would be very powerful and better than us because had access to the complete knowledge of good and evil. He wasn’t limited by our incomplete understanding. He was a God who would rule and reign like a man but bigger and better. His justice would be fierce and swift and uncompromising. The perfect-good would supplant any evil. His killing would be justified. An eye for an eye would satisfy any penal imbalance. This was the God of our minds. This was the God of far away. This was the God of judgment. His judgment would be conducted like ours but better. God was in our image.
That actually made us the judge.
This is why the incarnation is so unbelievable. This is why Jesus becoming flesh was so powerful. This is why His death at our hands changed everything.
Without our permission (that would have never been given anyway) God joined the human race. Since God is everywhere and holds everything together, his union with man became a union with mankind. We were all already in Him when He became one of us. Now we see man in God’s image who reveals the God who made us in His image. His revelation of God was so contrary to the one in our heads that we rejected Him. Even when His nature was kindness and love and gentleness and goodness and healing, the system, the foundation of man’s authority and rule and order rejected Him to death.
Johnathan Edwards gave a famous sermon titled “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” He uses the imagery of a spider dangling over a fire. The spider is us and God is the one dangling us. He uses imagery of an arrow that must be loosed to find the blood that will satisfy its lust. The archer is God and we are the blood victims. If you are reading this post I assume you actually agree with some of what has been written here…so…I expect imagery like that makes you cringe. I hope so.
I can’t explain why Edwards would be so popular. He actually had some wonderful things to say about God’s love. I can clearly see in his teaching (my limited exposure) what a conflicted human looks like. On one hand we are trying to put God in our image. On the other hand we are trying to trust in the God who made us in His image and resides in us. The first is based on our experience and disappointment and tragedy and pain. The second is a voice of truth that most often just seems “too good to be true.” We need to learn to trust the latter. He is too good to be true in our brains. But that is why we have the mind of Christ. That is why He made us a new creation. That is why He included us all in Jesus.
Jesus reveals this loving Father and family to us in Himself. He never waivers. He surely had the same temptation that we face to reject the image of “too good to be true” and instead embrace the fallen image of a distant, angry, uncaring, judgmental god. He didn’t. He knew His Father. He knew His family. The Holy Spirit never left Him…and He never leaves us.
A better image for an Edward’s type sermon would be ‘God in the hands of angry sinners.” In Jesus’ death God’s judgment is made manifest. God’s judgment on mankind was to include mankind into Himself. His judgment was to join Himself to His created image. His judgment was to bring us all into the family without our permission. His judgment was “you are worthy” and His proof was a dead son. His “judicial opinion” was our inclusion with Jesus as the payment to us so we would believe. The “judgment day” was our judging Him. The greatest paradox is a God who we believe a perfectionist, is a God who becomes imperfection. A God who we believe needs to punish is killed by a mankind that punishes Him. The cross is a paradox of God’s “no judgment” on a mankind who insists on judging Him. We utterly reject Him to His death. Our whips beat Him and His reaction is forgiveness. That is His healing power. Our chains tore His flesh and His wounds are proof of our healing. We beat Him with our fists and His stripes are our healing. He emptied Himself completely to us as a servant to death.
In our killing Him, in our judgment on God…we killed ourselves. Jesus became mankind and mankind finally had the last word…or so we thought. We killed our creator but His plan was bigger than our darkness. His plan of redemption was total inclusion in the light where darkness has no place. He took us into Him so we would always know Him as He is. He has always been with us. We didn’t have eyes to see Him. He has always been for us. We didn’t have a heart to receive Him. He has always cared for us. We didn’t have the mind to understand Him. Now we are in union with Him.
You might think that I am liberal or “new age” or some other “new thing” but can I say that all I have written in actually in the Bible. Not only that but many before me saw the same truth. As an example here is a link to a book written by Athanasius of Alexandria called “On the Incarnation.” It was written in the 4th century. Yeah, that is right…400ish AD. Augustine of Hippo was Athanasius’ contemporary. Most of what we teach in the west is based on Augustine. Most of what they teach in the eastern orthodox church is based on Athanasius. Check out the book. It is only about 75 pages long and it will encourage you.
Religion (the bad kind) uses fear as the manipulation tool. Most often it is based on some kind of gnostic philosophy that “knowledge” is the key to eternal security. God included us all in His family and gave us His mind so we would never again rely on our “human wisdom” for eternal security. He gave us Himself as our eternal security. So when you are presented with “new understanding” like I have done in most of these posts, you might have a reaction that says “but so and so said” or “my pastor said” or “Mathew Henry says” or whatever. I don’t discount those as sources of information that should be considered. The truth however is in you and joined with you and speaking to you even now as you read. His name is Jesus. He has always been with us. It has always been His plan to include us in His family. He is relentless Love in action. He is the I Am.
Now you decide. Who is the judge, really? I say we stop fighting and squirming and judging and excluding. Instead lets just rest in Him. He already judged us by including us. It is time we stop judging Him.