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I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Who Do you say that I am? Part III

(for parts I and II of this argument, see below.)

We now come to the crucial point of why Jesus's messiahship comes at his death. What it means, from the point-of-view of Mark's story, is that Jesus' life as a human being was not only real, but possible. That is, the death of Jesus shows us not how we become God, but rather how we are human. The point of the life, death, and the resurrection of Jesus (and I will get to that in some later posts) is to reveal to us the gift of our humanity. Jesus is the messiah, not because he was divine, but because he lived a human life at its highest level. In fact, we call Jesus "the perfect human," not because he never made mistakes, but because no one--real or imagined--has lived a better human life than him. Because Jesus of Nazareth is the definitive human, he is the Christ of God...and the order matters.

Because only after he is the Christ of God, can Jesus deliver on his promise to you and I that we too will live with God forever. Death is conquered, and that as we live in that promise we live as  HUMAN BEINGS, not as some kind of gods. Basically, Jesus says to us: I showed you what it means to be human, believe in me (because Jesus' living cannot be spearated from his person), and that means be HUMAN, and death will not be the final word. I (Jesus) promise.

Whether you trust Jesus' promise or not becomes for us humans the question of faith. (Remember: whether you trust the promise or not has no bearing on the promise itself--if I promise to give you ten dollars someday, and you choose not to believe it, doesn't mean that I won't keep my promise. It's my promise, and I'll deliver on it when I deliver on it.) The promise is not for us to be God, but rather, that human life--lived as human life (and not as something else, like trying to be godly or pure or something idiotic like that)--conquers death.

So, now, after seeing how Jesus died, we have an idea of what it means to die well. Dying well involves acceptance, gratitude, sacrifice, forgiveness, love, and probably humor. Dying well has nothing to do with hanging on because the technology is available, it has nothing to do with getting all your affairs arranged, dying well has nothing to do with surviving just because you are afraid of the future. The battles for food, shelter, love, a good glass of whiskey, and a decent conversation are our attempts to die well. For a lot of us, that is not dying well--but living well. And now you see...

Because when you see Jesus as the messiah, the Christ of God--there is no difference between living well and dying well. They are all part of the same life, the life you have with God.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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