It lays dormant in our bones, but it’s there, for each and every one of us. We were created to reveal the kingdom on earth. We are image bearers of God. It sits within us.
But it’s rusty, tired, weak, easily distracted.
The world is a noisy place, things clamor loudly for our worship. That is the sin of flesh, not that it is flesh, that doesn’t make it evil. It is the tendency for it to choose to not reveal the kingdom. It stays small, it lives shriveled and it drags everything down to hell with it.
We get confused about that I think, we think we are evil, disgusting, repulsive. But we are image bearers, we are a temple for a living God. That kind of talk is weird, it’ll get you wheeled away even in the most Christian of circles. Something about it is too wild, too insane, too…true.
The most evil piece of us is not ourselves, it is that we choose darkness over light, we choose broken over whole, we’d rather hide than stand, we choose to oppress over empowering, we use our holy temples to being the kingdom of hell, not the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t make your body or soul any less loved, it just makes us idiots. Which I guess to understate is heavily understated.
But I’m constantly trying to drag the definition of sin away from the one I was originally taught. Not that it was wrong but it was just so small. And then the problem of a small, oversimplified understanding of sin means a small, oversimplified understanding of Jesus.
If sin means drinking, doing drugs, having sex with randos, not lying to my mommy, and not being an all around dick then Jesus came and died for all my drinks and drugs and sex and lying and general dickishness. Which he did, but it kind of misses the entire point.
In trying to define sin so concretely, so small, so action based, we defined Jesus’ sacrifice as concrete, small, action based, and in turn Jesus’ death is understood as transactional.
A mere payment for our propensity to be douchcanoes.
Which, it is, but it transcends far beyond that.
Grace isn’t about freely paying for the things I’ve done, it’s about transforming me into who I’ve been created to be.
Let me remind myself of that again, grace isn’t about freely paying for the things I’ve done, it’s about transforming me into who I’ve been created to be.
It’s about dying. He dies, I die. Conquering all the death, all the darkness, all the oppression, and pain, and shit we all revel in. It’s about coming to life after its all dead so we can live fully to reveal light and hope and life in the world instead of all the other crap we seem bent on exalting.
It’s about learning to worship God and not the transaction of salvation.
It’s not second chances, or tenth chances, or hundredth chances, it’s not about chances. It’s not about doing, it’s never been about doing which is a problem because we are Americans and everything is about doing, all our worth is about doing. Which means the first critique about a faith in Jesus centered around ‘becoming’ and not ‘doing’ sends up every flare in our beings, “but if you focus on ‘becoming’ your life won’t actually change! How will we know you love Jesus enough?” Which is a crock on at least twelve different levels.
If Jesus is transforming your life, then your actions will change. We say that, and we pretend to claim it and know it but then the second we talk about deep soul transformation before doing things we backpedal and clarify to make sure that no one thinks we are lazy little faith bastards. The problem is we are, and regardless we can’t do things for Jesus out of it.
We know, we know, we hold up our hands at you and wave. It’s not about doing it’s about what happens in your heart but if you don’t do something then….then what? Jesus will be confused about where your heart stands? He will look down from the heavens and frown at you? Is it God or Zeus you see? Can you tell the difference?
Somedays. Some days I can tell that God is present and alive among us, with us, transforming me in every breath and conversation and moment of pain and beauty. Some days God is far away, a cartoon in the sky, an old, white, bearded man, furrowed brow sees when you’re naughty and nice, checking the list twice. That kind of thing. Farthest thing from the truth and yet I make it my truth.
We do that, we like to do that, it’s easier that way. Santa God. We can understand that, quantify, qualify, measure, explain, package and sell it.
If we aren’t all buying the same thing then maybe it’s all a sham. I think that’s why people are so convinced to convince you they know the answer. Who made them God? But don’t ask too many questions because if you poke that nest, they’ll be convinced you’re a heretic trying to spit on Jesus himself. Don’t they know we do that everyday? Every time we make him a divine credit card? Every time we boil grace down to a second chance.
Don’t they know?
I am ‘they’ and they are me.
We are deeply confused and trying to prove we are not.
But trying to prove that is a waste of time. This is no place for our pride, no place for our ego.
The best practice of humility is to let God be God of my life and not need to have God figured out before I give up my throne. Putting a self-constructed, fully understood God on the throne isn’t really giving up my seat at all.
Embrace the mystery, embrace the confusion, roll up your sleeves and say yes to being deeply transformed. Participate openhanded in revealing heaven on earth. Don’t clutch ‘doing’ too hard or you’ll be left living in a snow globe when the whole kingdom belongs to you.
We can feel it, in our blood and bones and breath, we bear the image of God.
We can’t let ourselves live smaller than that.