40 Words: “Human” (02.18.2016)

800px-Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg

Leonardo Da Vinci, Vetruvian Man 

In a way, this is a continuation of yesterday’s thoughts on hunger.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

As we go through our own 40 day journey, it’s helpful to remember that Jesus did not sail through his time in the desert without hardship. The text clearly says that he was hungry. The writer of Hebrews confirms this thought when she writes that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like we were and are.

I think this aspect of Jesus—his humanity, and the true impacts of that fact—is one of the most explosive and neglected aspects of our faith.

Actually, I daresay we are terrified of it.

Though every Christian creed and central belief of the faith clearly states that Jesus was 100% human and 100% God, and though we see it clearly in Scripture, I think we shy away from the human part because of what it could mean for us.

It’s easier to have Jesus only exist “up there” in his perfection, in his “God-ness”. That means that he’s up there to help us in our times of need.

(And he certainly is.)

But…

He is not just “up there.” He’s “down here” too. He’s walked our earth, breathed our air, encountered our troubles.

This isn’t just so he could get crucified.

It’s so he could show us what a human being is capable of. 

And that scares us.

Because it means that we are capable of more.

The incarnation not only says that it’s okay to be human, it actually says that our humanity—it’s brokenness, unpredictability, it’s fragility, etc.—is where salvation takes place.

Not in heaven.

Here.

Now.

That challenges me.

In a way, I’d rather have Jesus as some kind of distant God that I could never aspire to.

But that’s not what I got.

I got a Jesus—a human being—that was hungry. 

I get hungry.

But the incarnation says, “Don’t wait; God wants to redeem and change and grow you—I almost want to say evolve you—into something more Christlike right now. 

Not when you are “spiritual enough.”

Lent reveals your humanity. Revel in that. And then seek ways to grow to be more like Christ, the ultimate human being, the “2nd Adam,” who has come down in order to raise us up, not only when we die. 

BUT RIGHT NOW. 

 

+e

 

The Bible Project, Pt 3: Enter Humanity (or, “I knew you were trouble when you walked in…”)

 Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”

God created humanity

In God’s own image,

  in the divine image

      God created them,

      male and female

        God created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

So God has this creation.

Day after day the rhythm is repeated: God creates, then sits back and enjoys it, and then evaluates it…

And it’s goooood. 

But, somehow, not good enough.

So after the world is complete, God decides to do one more masterfully creative thing…

He makes humanity.

This is no small thing.

With this moment of creation, the first glimpses of our biblical “spine” start to come into view.

Or, to put it another way, this God is up to something.

Broadly speaking, there are three things that we learn about humanity in the creation story. They’re not complicated, but these three things have profound significance for the rest of our story, so it’s important that we understand them.

One: Image

As verses say, we bear the imprint of God’s image on us. At this point in our story, what do we know about this god’s “image”?

  • He creates things
  • He enjoys His creation
  • He even creates human beings, and when He does it, He says it’s very good… 

So whatever human beings are, or whatever they become, one of the ingredients of our spine is that we are marked with the image of this creating, singing, celebrating God. We are called to measure our lives by our likeness to Him.

Two: Work 

In verse 28 of chapter one, God tells Adam (from the Hebrew ‘adam, which is not a proper noun, but rather a generic name for humanity; see Robert Alter’s book on the Pentateuch for more discussion), “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” In Genesis 2, we are told that God puts humanity in a garden (v8).

Here’s the thing about gardens: they take work. 

So God gives humanity work to do: they farm and keep the land (v8 and v15), and they name the animals (2:19-20).

So here’s another little piece of our spine that is beginning to take shape: this God invites—even expects—His creation to co-labor with Him. Whatever work there is to do, God allows humanity to be a part of it.

Work is a part of the divine plan. The garden isn’t all about sitting around, sipping lemonade and listening to lame angels’ songs.

It’s about making sure God’s creation is in balance…

… Oh, and also: don’t forget about the image thing. When we work, we have to work in God’s image. We have to do things the way He would do it (this becomes increasingly important).

Three: Freedom

“In the fertile land, the LORD God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2v9)

“The LORD God commanded the human, ‘Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!” (2v16-17)

So God creates a planet that He loves. He creates a creature to co-labor and create and steward this world. Then He tells the human to not eat of a certain tree…

… Then God retreats, and lets the human choose.

(… The outcome isn’t so good.)

This God gives us the freedom to choose, even when the results can be disastrous. 

Why?

I think it’s because of love.

After creating an entire universe and world, it would be a pretty small thing to put, say, a really tall hedge around the two trees. A fence. Anything.

But this God wants humanity to be able to choose.

Because you can’t love without a choice.

I think that if all God wanted was creatures to do His bidding, He could’ve easily eliminated choice or chance. But this God wants more. He wants community. He wants love.

Freely given.

And you can’t freely give something if you don’t have the option to not give. 

So here we stand, and in a way it’s quite simple:

  1. There’s a God.
  2. He created a something: a world.
  3. That world matters to Him. A lot. 
  4. He created someone. 
  5. That someone matters to Him an awful lot, but… 
  6. God is going to let that someone choose to be in relationship with Him.

And that’s going to cause an awful lot of trouble.

Next up: Genesis 3v1-4v16

Oh yeah… and of course I had to include this…