Saturday, August 15, 2015

The power to become

‘God is not a used car salesman.’ This thought occurred to me as I drove along a street in my neighborhood and saw a house along the way which is abundantly labeled with big signs ‘Jesus Saves,’ and ‘In God We Trust’ and many smaller signs on a garage door and in a driveway littered with illiterate automobiles, all inside a protective cyclone fence. What better way could be found to deflect anyone from Jesus or God, even better than a mere ‘No Trespassing’ sign, or a ‘Beware of Dog’? Yes, their entire property was one great billboard saying to all and sundry, ‘Beware of God.’ I wonder if the local door-to-door evangelists (the ones who damaged my screen door by shoving a tract through the screen) were ever brave enough to leave one of their merry invitations at that house!

That house prompted the idea, ‘God is not a used car salesman,’ and the more I thought about what it meant, the deeper the saying got. After I said these words aloud to a friend who was with me in the car, the next thing that came out of my mouth was, ‘Jesus says, Behold! I make all things new! and then, ‘Don’t those people know that?’ After a few more words passed between us on the topic, it was forgotten, but not by me—the idea wouldn’t leave me.

No, God is not a used car salesman. The one man in whom we can say God ever became fully incarnate, Jesus Christ, is the instigator of a newness that is always latent in the universe He created, but which humanity in our weakness and sin (is there a difference?) covers up by a blasphemous conservatism which it justifies before God by calling it ‘religion.’ How is the conservatism of religion blasphemous? Isn’t it merely inconvenient to people who want to do things their own way without reference to God?

No, I’m afraid not. Religious people keep bad-mouthing any newness in life, religious or otherwise, by referencing the ‘unchanging message of the tradition,’ and faulting human weakness and sin for this irrepressible desire for newness. They call it ‘novelty,’ and try by any means to hush it up, completely forgetting, maybe purposely burying, the very words of the Savior of the human race, ‘Behold! I make all things new!’ One with the Pharisees who condemned Him to death, their work is never finished.

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. So why are His self-proclaimed followers out to kill every vestige of newness of life except in mouthing their formularies? Not Caesar, but Jesus Christ, truly ‘came, and saw, and conquered,’ and ‘not by power, nor by might, but by the Spirit,’ as prophet Zechariah utters, his words being fulfilled and echoing from one end of time to the other. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be, not only the only lover, but the only liberator, of mankind. Why, then, this blasphemous conservatism? What’s blasphemous about it?

‘God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor,’ attributed to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, unabashedly hints at the answer. What makes people religious is the tendency to take one’s ideas or ideology about God and make that ‘God.’ Any authentic encounter with God as He is, call it a theophany personal or public, shatters the chains of religion, which others inexperienced hastily reforge.

But conservatism is not the problem. There is good, as well as bad, conservatism. Yes, God does command, He has a definite will. One of His first commands to the human race at our last major evolutionary jump, to Adam and Eve, was to tend the earth, to be its gods and protectors, and that is the primordial and divinely ordained conservatism. Is it because God commanded it, that we ignore it, run from it, and make up our own idea of conservatism which is anything but conservative? Only God does not need to be conserved, yet we treat Him as our property, and stingily hedge Him around with a cyclone fence like the inhabitants of that private ‘used car lot.’

Thankfully, God is not containable, as I recently observed, except in the womb of a virgin Mother. Well, that’s the truth but not the whole truth. That was only the beginning. The human race as we have been in recorded history is maybe six to nine thousand years old. Whatever our ancestors were before conscious life was breathed into Adam—those remains we have been finding of creatures that resemble us from almost apelike to almost humanoid form—we were remade by Christ in the Garden of Eden—yes, He has always been the ‘new creature Maker’—we were even renamed, Adam, homo sapiens our scientific nickname. But Christ came to us in another Garden, where He laid down His life as the ‘old man,’ as homo sapiens, when He hung on the Cross, the new Tree of life, and emerged as the ‘the new man,’ the new Adam, for which science has not yet found a name, because it doesn’t believe in it.

Jesus Christ was, is, and will be forever that new Adam whose Name, like God’s, cannot be formed by the lips of the ‘old man,’ but can only be pronounced as the lives of the new humanity that sits with Christ on the Throne of the heavenly and consubstantial Triad, at once heavenly and earthly, the fulfillment of the prophecy, ‘God became man, so that man might become God.’ That ‘might’ is not a possibility for the ‘old man,’ the old Adam, the homo sapiens whose conservatism destroys not only the earth we were created to protect, but the soul of everyone who sleeps.

No, God is not a used car salesman. He does not deal in used religions either. Nor does He ever do what we have been trying to do since the morning He was the first to awaken from death. He never fills old wine-skins with new wine. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past two thousand years. You may call God anything you like, but He cannot be called impatient. Coming to us two millennia ago not as a freak of nature or of history, a God-man merely to be religiously worshiped, but as the first Example, the primordial Adam, of a new humanity, He breathed into the first generation the Breath of the new Life, the Breath that is Spirit, and what we were before, homo sapiens, leapt up in dignity to be by adoption what He is by nature. Brothers, come, let us become the new creatures for whom the creation groans in anticipation, for…

…To all who received Him, He gave the power to become sons of God, to those who believed in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…
John 1:12-14

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