Saturday, October 15, 2011

how God breaks his own commandment

The scandal of the Christian faith becomes apparent to us when we realize God breaks his own commandments.

He first tells us that we are forbidden to shape him in any man-made image or form--and then turns around and does precisely that in the person of Joshua.

Yes, “Joshua” is a better translation of Jesus’ name (literally, Yeshua) than our word “Jesus” because the word Jesus now suggests to us the idea of “divinity” whereas in Jesus’ day his name rather suggested that he was just a carpenter from the backwater town of Nazareth—the name Jesus was as common as George and Joshua and Ron and Bill are to us today. So, I use the name Joshua instead here to emphasize the gobsmacking truth that God became a person, a human! If that truth doesn’t cause our mouths to open in wonder, we either have a broken jaw or we simply do not understand the surprise of such a truth.

And here’s another scandal: this same Joshua breathes on his imperfect followers in imitation of the creation story where God breathes on the first human, animating the dust from which Adam had been formed. Just as Adam and Eve were made in the image of God by such breath so Joshua remakes in us the image of God that had become broken through disobedience and indifference. He does this by his breath. And after breathing on his followers and commissioning them, Joshua leaves the task of embodying God to us. Again, let us not forget, it is this same God who has commanded us not to make him into a human form. (Does this sound confusing? Well, I shall leave it that way because it should addle our brains—and hearts.)

The scandal of the Christian faith is that this breaking of God’s commandment forms the very essence of such faith. It is not just another sidebar. If we fail in this, we cannot call ourselves Christian, for to be a Christian is to be a “little Christ.” Joshua who is God invites Tammy, Kevin, Kim, Jessica, Vivian, Carole, Theresa and Earl to embody God in a world that would content itself with no god.

Because of the magnitude of such an honor, let us do so with utmost humility.

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