Wednesday, November 14, 2018

More Like Christ

It is a dangerous, but vital, piece of information that we now have, seeing how our own experience of the human flesh shapes - either positively or negatively - how we perceive Jesus, our God who came in human flesh bearing image to us and to His Father. 

It is dangerous because it forever limits what we understand of Him, and we may be prone to believe that what we understand is in fact not limited, but complete. We know everything about Jesus, we say, but the truth is that we only ever know that to which we can relate in Him. There are things in Him to which we cannot so easily relate, even in the negative, and these things, we not only do not know, but we do not know that we do not know. 

This leads us, as is the custom of men, to make bold declarations about what we know about Jesus, as if what we know is the totality, and to get in arguments with one another because others may see something more or something different in His flesh than we see. 

It also leads us to have a limited view of Him, and this is the most dangerous of all, because it convinces us that Jesus was just like us. Wholly and completely exactly as we are. 

We are told in the Scriptures that this is true, that Jesus came in the flesh to be like us, but it is a deceptive theology the way that we do it. For we tend to think that Jesus is already perfectly like us, and if He is perfectly like us (based on our limited understanding of Him according to our own fleshly experience), then we are already perfectly like Him. And all of a sudden, our Lord can require nothing of us, for we are already perfect. 

It's the greatest deception, and Christians everywhere are falling for it. We believe that we are already what Jesus would desire us to be, if we are confident in ourselves, or if we are not confident in ourselves, we believe that we can never be what Jesus would desire us to be. Therefore, we have nothing to change about ourselves, nowhere to grow, nothing new to engage in. We're perfect, or imperfect, just as we are, and there is nothing that will make us better or worse for it. 

And now, we have a Jesus who looks like us, but we do not necessarily look like Him, and we have told ourselves that this, this is the central ideal of Christianity. 

It is far from it. 

This dangerous piece of information is also, however, a vital one, for it reminds us with every breath that there is something about Jesus we do not understand because we do not possess it. And if there is something about Him we do not understand because we do not possess it, then the only way that we can come to know more of Jesus is to grow to become more like Him in the ways we do not yet understand. Thus, we become Christians who push ourselves to be more like Him and rather than seeing Him as essentially like us, we try to see ourselves as becoming more like Him. 

And this is truly the central ideal of Christianity. That we would be more like Him. 

This idea is the sword of the whole thing, sharp on both edges. On the one hand, the way that we perceive Jesus often leads us to assume that He is essentially like us, to see ourselves in Him to the extent that we can convince ourselves that we are already perfect and that our Lord desires nothing more of us. (Or in the case that we find ourselves imperfect in this reflection, that our Lord desires too much of us, and therefore, nothing is required, either.)

But on the other edge, if we are aware of the limits of our perception, then and only then can we truly begin to see where we need to grow and change. We begin, over time, as we invest ourselves into seeing more of Him by being more like Him, to see Him in ourselves, to the extent that we begin to truly understand the beauty and the glory of the incarnate Christ. And we become disciples precisely by nature not of what we know, but of knowing what we do not know and then seeking to learn. 

Philosophical enough for you?

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