The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

Jesus – Fully Human (God-Man)

This series is on Jesus, the God-Man.  This article appeared on Desiring God and Desiring God owns rights to this content.

This is part 2 of 4 on the incarnation. Part One: What Is the Incarnation?

Jesus has a human body, emotions, mind, and will. And this in no way compromises his deity.

When the Word became flesh—when the eternal Son of God took on full humanity—he did not merely become human in part. He fully became truly human.

Jesus’ Human Body

It is clear enough from the New Testament that Jesus has a human body. John 1:14 means at least this, and more: “The Word became flesh.” Jesus’ humanity is one of the first tests of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). Jesus was born (Luke 2:7). He grew (Luke 2:40, 52). He grew tired (John 4:6) and got thirsty (John 19:28) and hungry (Matthew 4:2). He became physically weak (Matthew 4:11; Luke 23:26). He died (Luke 23:46). And he had a real human body after his resurrection (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27).

Jesus’ Human Emotions

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus clearly displays human emotions. When Jesus heard the centurion’s words of faith, “he marveled” (Matthew 8:10). He says in Matthew 26:38 that his “soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” In John 11:33–35, Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and even weeps. John 12:27 says, “Now is my soul troubled,” and inJohn 13:21, he is “troubled in his spirit.” The author to the Hebrews writes that “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) John Calvin memorably summed it up: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.”

Jesus’ Human Mind

Jesus also has a human mind. Two key texts make this undeniable:

  • Luke 2:52: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
  • Mark 13:32: “Concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The second verse, of course, is striking. For Christians who clearly affirm Jesus’ deity,Mark 13:32 seems like trouble. But what looks difficult at first glance proves to be a glorious confirmation of Jesus’ humanity and a very helpful piece in formulating our Christology.

If Jesus is God and God knows everything, how can Jesus not know when his second coming will be?

In addition to being fully divine, Jesus is fully human. He has both an infinite, divine mind and a finite, human mind. He can be said not to know things because he is human and finite—human minds are not omniscient. And Jesus can be said to know all things (John 21:17) because he is divine and infinite in his knowledge.

Paradoxical as it is, we must affirm that Jesus both knows all things and doesn’t know all things. For the unique, two-natured person of Christ, this is no contradiction but a peculiar glory of the God-man.

Jesus’ Human Will

Now, trickiest of all, Jesus not only has a divine will but also a human will. Two wills—one divine and one human. Two key texts mention his human will:

  • John 6:38: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
  • Matthew 26:39: “Not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus has an infinite, divine will that he shares with his Father. And he has a finite, human will that, while being an authentic human will, is perfectly in sync with and submissive to the divine will.

This Jesus is a spectacular person! Fully God. Fully man. He is utterly unique. There is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Fully Divine, Fully Human

Jesus is like us in every respect—human body, heart, mind, and will—except for sin (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15).

How amazing that the divine Son of God would not just take on part of our humanity but all of it—and then take that true humanity all the way to the cross for us.

Jesus took a human body to save our bodies. And he took a human mind to save our minds. Without becoming man in his emotions, he could not have saved our emotions. And without taking a human will, he could not save our will. In the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”

He became man in full so that he might save us in full. Hallelujah! What a marvelous Savior!


For more Christmas reflections on the person of Christ —

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Churchin Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He has edited and contributed to several books and is author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

He Came Down from Heaven

John 1:1–3, 14–18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . .

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

We believe in Jesus. That’s the title of our five-week series to kick off 2016. Our focus is the person and work of Christ. The Nicene Creed, which was first drafted in 325 A.D., then updated in 381, then accepted in 451, begins with this brief word about the Father:

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

Then the heart and lion’s share of the creed focuss on Jesus, and serves to structure our five-part sermon series:

And [we believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven [our topic for this morning]; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human [next week we’ll look at Jesus’s human life].

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried [week three we’ll focus on the his death]. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father [week four will be his resurrection and ascension]. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end. [Fifth and finally, we’ll focus on Jesus’s Second Coming]

(The last section of the creed turns to the Holy Spirit. We also believe in the Holy Spirit, and that his main work — not his only work — is to glorify Jesus (John 16:14). We think he would be very happy with a five-week series that focuses each week on Jesus.)

But this morning, we set the table for his life and death and resurrection and return by turning to “the incarnation.”

What Is the Incarnation?

The incarnation refers literally to the in-fleshing of the Son of God — putting on human flesh and becoming man. The doctrine of the incarnation says that the eternal second person of the Trinity took on humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. A helpful way to remember the key aspects of the incarnation is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh.”

So let me walk you through this summary of the incarnation. First, “the Word,” then “became,” then “flesh” — and we’ll close by drawing out some of the magnificent implications of Jesus’s incarnation for our lives.

The Word

The Word refers to the eternal Son of God who was “in the beginning with God” and who himself is God (John 1:1). From eternity past until he took on humanity, the Son of God existed in perfect love, joy, and harmony in the fellowship of the Trinity. Like the Father and the Spirit, he was spirit and had no material substance. But at the incarnation, the eternal Word entered into creation as human. He became a first-century Jew.

This is what we’ve just celebrated at Christmas — the incarnation of Christ, God becoming man. Christmas is not simply the celebration of Jesus’s birth. Unlike the rest of us, Jesus’s story doesn’t begin with his birth.

Prior to our earthly beginnings, we simply did not exist. But it is not so with the Son of God. His “coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). Unlike every other human birth, Jesus’s was not a beginning, but a becoming. It wasn’t his start, but his commission. He was not created; he came.

No other human in the history of the world shares in this peculiar glory. As remarkable as his virgin birth is, his preexistence sets him apart even more distinctively. The New Testament teaches three important things about “the Word” who became flesh.

1. He existed before the incarnation.

The Word existed before he was made man at the incarnation. Jesus himself made the claim, so stunning — and even offensive to first-century Jewish sentiments, so offensive that “they picked up stones to throw at him” — when he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58–59).

True as it was, this jarring reality didn’t go over much better in John 6. “‘What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?’ . . . After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (John 6:62, 66).

But those who were given eyes to see the glory didn’t turn back; their number would eventually include Paul and the author of Hebrews. Melchizedek, who lived a thousand years before Jesus, resembled the Son of God by “having neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Hebrews 7:3). And Israel’s wilderness generation “drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Beyond that, four New Testament refrains join the chorus that the person of Christ existed long before that first Christmas.

He Came

Mark’s Gospel opens under the banner of Jesus as Yahweh himself come to earth (Mark 1:1–3). He came from outside the created realm, into our world, to bring God’s long-promised rescue. “The Son of Man came . . . to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; also Mark 10:45 and Luke 19:10). In John, the language of coming, as in John 6:62, isdescending. “The Son of Man descended from heaven” (John 3:13). Mere humans don’t descend; they begin. But Jesus came down from heaven.

Again, Paul and Hebrews follow in the Gospel wake. “Christ came into the world” (Hebrews 10:5), and in one of the most terse and potent gospel summaries, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Related to coming is manifestation. “He wasmanifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Peter 1:20). He came.

He Was Sent

Prophets were sent without preexisting, but not so with God’s own Son. He was sent from outside the world of flesh, into it, to redeem his people. The context is fundamentally different when we’re talking about sending the eternal Son, rather than mere human messengers.

In the parable of the tenants, the owner of the vineyard, at long last, sent his “beloved son” (Mark 12:6), decisively distinct in relationship from the other servants he had sent prior. “When the fullness of time had come,” Paul writes in Galatians 4:4, “God sent forth his Son, born of woman.” God didn’t take an already born human and send him forth; he sent forth his own divine Son to be human. Likewise, in the sacrifice of his Son, God did what we non-preexistent humans could not do for ourselves: “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). He was sent.

He Was Given

Third, and perhaps most memorably, the preexistent Christ was given. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). The sacrifice of Christ loses all its force as an expression of God’s love if Jesus did not preexist his incarnation.

The Mount Everest of biblical promises presupposes the Son’s preexistence in saying that God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). He was given.

The fourth refrain in the New Testament about the preexistence of Christ is “became,” and we’ll move to that in just a moment. But we have more to say about the Word than that he existed before the incarnation.

2. He existed before creation.

But not only did Christ preexist that first Christmas; he also preexisted all creation. It’s difficult to imagine the New Testament being any clearer on this account. The Nicene Creed confesses he was “begotten from the Father before all ages” on the firm foundation of Scripture.

John’s Gospel opens with the declaration,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1–3)

Human flesh didn’t become the Word. The eternal Word became flesh. And all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. So also, Colossians 1:16–17:

By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created though him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And so Jesus prays in John 17:5, “Now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

3. He is pre-existent because he is God.

That Christ existed before his incarnation, and even before the foundation of the world, is finally a function of his divinity. He is first and last, Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8), because he is God. “No formal distinction can be made between deity and preexistence” (Donald Macleod, Person of Christ, 57).

So let it be well established that when we begin with “the Word,” we begin with God. God became man. But what, then, does it mean that he “became”?

Became

Became does not mean that he ceased to be God. In becoming man, he did not forsake his divine nature. Rather, what it means is that he became man by taking on human nature in addition to his divine nature. Addition, not subtraction.

It is essential to the incarnation — and important in all Christian theology — to recognize that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive. The Son of God didn’t have to pick between being God and being man. He could be both at the same time. The eternal Word became human. He was 100% God, and then became 100% man, without ceasing to be 100% God.

On its own, “becoming” wouldn’t necessitate preexistence. The key is to ask what he was before he became. He was divinely rich, and became humanly poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He was in “the form of God,” then took “the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6–7). One who was infinitely high, because he was God, became a little lower than the angels, because he became man (Hebrews 2:9).

His “becoming” was not a ceasing to be what he had been previously, but a “taking on” (Philippians 2:7) of human flesh and blood. The fully divine Son added full humanity to his person.

Flesh

Flesh isn’t merely a reference to the human body but the entirety of what makes up humanity — body, mind, emotions, and will. Hebrews 2:17 and 4:15 teach that to save human beings Jesus had to be made like us “in every respect” except our sin. In the incarnation, everything proper to humanity was united to the Son of God. The Son of God didn’t only become like man; he actually became truly and fully human.

Which means Jesus has a human body, emotions, mind, and will. And this in no way compromises his deity. When the Word became flesh, he did not merely become human in part. He fully became truly human.

Jesus’s Human Body

It is clear enough from the New Testament that Jesus has a human body. “The Word became flesh” means at least this, and more. Jesus’s humanity is one of the first tests of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). Jesus was born (Luke 2:7). He grew (Luke 2:40, 52). He grew tired (John 4:6) and got thirsty (John 19:28) and hungry (Matthew 4:2). He became physically weak (Matthew 4:11; Luke 23:26). He died (Luke 23:46). And he had a real human body after his resurrection (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27).

Jesus’s Human Emotions

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus clearly displays human emotions. When Jesus heard the centurion’s words of faith, “he marveled” (Matthew 8:10). He says in Matthew 26:38 that his “soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” In John 11:33–35, Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and even weeps. He says in John 12:27, “Now is my soul troubled,” and in John 13:21, he is “troubled in his spirit.” The author to the Hebrews writes that “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7).

John Calvin memorably summed it up: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.”

Jesus’s Human Mind

Jesus also has a human mind. Two key texts make this undeniable:

  • Luke 2:52: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
  • Mark 13:32: “Concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The second verse, of course, is striking. For Christians who clearly affirm Jesus’s deity, Mark 13:32 seems like trouble. But what looks difficult at first glance proves to be a glorious confirmation of Jesus’s humanity and a very helpful piece in knowing the full humanity of Christ.

If Jesus is God and God knows everything, how can Jesus not know when his second coming will be?

In addition to being fully divine, Jesus is fully human. He has both an infinite, divine mind and a finite, human mind. He can be said not to know things because he is human and finite — human minds are not omniscient. And Jesus can be said to know all things (John 21:17) because he is divine and infinite in his knowledge.

Paradoxical as it seems, we must affirm that Jesus both knows all things and doesn’t know all things. For the unique, two-natured person of Christ, this is no contradiction but a peculiar glory of the God-man.

Jesus’s Human Will

Now, trickiest of all, Jesus not only has a divine will but also a human will. This took the church the longest to wrestle with. Two wills — one divine and one human. Two key texts mention his human will:

  • John 6:38: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
  • Matthew 26:39: “Not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus has an infinite, divine will that he shares with his Father. And he has a finite, human will that, while being an authentic human will, is perfectly in sync with and submissive to the divine will, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’s Human Home

That Jesus took on full humanity — body and mind and affections and will — also means he entered into our world and surroundings, and with it, the pain of relationships, the difficulties of disciplemaking, and the aggravations of everyday life. He shared our world and environment. He worked a “secular” job for decades before there was any “public ministry.” Think of that! The Son of God lived on the planet in relative obscurity for over three decades. Don’t give up because you’re laboring in obscurity.

That Jesus became fully human also means he took on human sexuality. Which means Jesus knows what it’s like to have sexuality but not to express it sinfully. You don’t have to have sex to be fully human. And Jesus never married — which means that you don’t have be married to be fully human.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be human, to be finite, to be frail. Hebrews 2:17 and 4:15 says that he is like us in every respect — except for sin. Jesus lived a perfect human life, a life totally without sin.

What the Incarnation Means for You

So the Word became flesh.

  • The Word: the eternal second person of the Trinity, God himself, fully divine
  • Became: without ceasing to be God, he took full humanity to his person, such that two full, unconfused, unchanged, undivided, inseparable natures are united together in one person
  • Flesh: fully human, in body, emotions, mind, will, and surroundings

This is the incarnation: two whole and uncompromised natures in one spectacular person. The significance of the Creator becoming a creature alongside of us is greater than we can fully trace out, but let’s close with seven implications for our lives, among many more.

1) You can be human.

The incarnation sanctifies our humanity. Humanity and divinity are not at odds, but complementary. God created humanity — and then became human. Humanity is good, made in the image of God. It is not a sin to be human. It is sin to rebel against God. Don’t feel guilty about being human; glory in it. This also means the gospel is relevant to our whole humanity. Not just our souls, but also our minds. And our bodies.

2) You can be ordinary.

The incarnation sanctifies the normalcy of our lives, like work and family and hygiene and eating and exercise — all the normal, boring things we need to do everyday to be human. Jesus lived three decades on earth in relative obscurity as a common laborer. Your life doesn’t need to feel spectacular. You are freed from the demand to be dramatic. Your life doesn’t need to be celebrated. God himself walked the earth for thirty-some years and hardly anyone took notice.

3) You are not alone in your pain.

God himself knows what it’s like to suffer the pains and losses of life in a fallen world. Jesus knows what it’s like to be abandoned and betrayed. He knows what it’s like to suffer loss. He knows what it’s like to grieve as human (A secondary point here is that you can be single. Jesus never married. God himself when he became human never had sex. The human life of Jesus is a testament that you don’t need marriage and sex to be fully human.)

4) You can fight and defeat sin.

In the incarnation, we see the possibility of living in holiness and righteousness. None of us is perfect like Jesus, and none of us will live from now until the end of today without some sinful attitude or action. However, what the incarnate life of Christ demonstrates for us is that is it is possible for humans, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to resist temptation and have victory over sin.

Never once, as we observe him struggle with temptation, do we see him deriving comfort from the fact of his own impeccability [which means inability to sin]. All that we see is his having recourse to the very same weapons as are available to ourselves: the company of his fellow-believers (Mark 14:33), the word of God (Matthew 4:4), and prayer (Mark 14:35). (Macleod, Person of Christ, 230)

5) You can be saved.

There is a reason he became fully human: “for us and for our salvation,” as the church creeds read. The incarnation was not for show, but to save. He is not only our sovereign by virtue of being God, but now also, made possible by being man, he is our sacrifice and substitute. He is not only our creator, but also our redeemer. He is the Lamb who was slain. He died for sins, not his own.

How amazing that the divine Son of God would not just take on part of our humanity but all of it — and then take that true humanity all the way to the cross for us. Jesus took a human body to save our bodies. And he took a human mind to save our minds. Without becoming man in his emotions, he could not have saved our emotions. And without taking a human will, he could not save our will. In the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.” He assumed it all, and saved it all.

He became man in full so that he might save us in full. And so the incarnation is an eternal testimony that the fully divine Son and his Father are unswervingly for us. The incarnation is permanent proof that Jesus, in perfect harmony with his Father, is unstoppably for us. He has demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he took our nature to his one person and died for us.

6) You can know God.

Jesus is the revelation of God.

  • John 1:18: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
  • John 14:8–9: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
  • John 12:45: “whoever sees me sees him who sent me”

This is why he is “the Word.” He is God communicating himself to us. He is God revealing himself to us, so fully and richly that it’s not just a word proposition but a Word person. He is God’s full and final Word to humanity. Human can know God because God became human.

7) You can be truly happy.

God has made the human heart in such a way that it will never be eternally content with what is only human. Finitude can’t slake our thirst for the infinite.

And yet, in our finite humanity, we were made to ache for a point of correspondence with the divine. God was glorious long before he became a man in Jesus. But we are human beings, and unincarnate deity doesn’t connect with us in the same way as the God who became human. The conception of a god who never became man (like Allah) will not satisfy the human soul like the God who did.

You can be truly happy because no one person satisfies the complex longings of the human heart like the God-man.

Related:

Full Sermon, audio and text

Incarnation, the God-Man

This series is on Jesus, the God-Man.  This article appeared on Desiring God and Desiring God owns rights to this content.

Advent is my yearly reminder to sharpen and deepen my understanding of the incarnation. So in this spirit, this is the first in a series of four Advent posts related to the incarnation.

What Is the Incarnation?

The incarnation refers literally to the in-fleshing of the eternal Son of God—Jesus becoming human. The doctrine of the incarnation says that the eternal second person of the Trinity took on humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. A helpful way to remember the key aspects of the incarnation is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh.”

The Word…

The Word refers to the eternal Son of God who was “in the beginning with God” and who himself is God (John 1:1). From eternity past until he took on humanity, the Son of God existed in perfect love, joy, and harmony in the fellowship of the Trinity. Like the Father and the Spirit, he was spirit and had no material substance. But at the incarnation, the eternal Word entered into creation as human. He became a first-century Jew.

…became…

Became does not mean that he ceased to be God. In becoming man, he did not forsake his divine nature. It means that he became man by taking on human nature in addition to his divine nature. It is essential to the incarnation—and very helpful throughout all theology—to recognize that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive. The Son of God didn’t have to pick between being God and being man. He could be both at the same time. The eternal Word became human.

…flesh.

Flesh isn’t merely a reference to the human body but the entirety of what makes up humanity—body, mind, emotions, and will. Hebrews 2:17 and 4:15 teach that to save human beings Jesus had to be made like us “in every respect” except our sin. In the incarnation, everything proper to humanity was united to the Son of God. The Son of God didn’t only become like man; he actually became truly and fully human.

The Word Became Flesh

So the eternal Son of God, without ceasing to be God, took on a fully human nature. This is the incarnation.

And what a magnificent doctrine and fuel for worship this is! Jesus didn’t just become man because he could. This was no circus stunt, just for show. He became man “for us and for our salvation” (in the words of the old creed). The Word became flesh to save us from our sin and to free us to marvel at and enjoy the unique union of divinity and humanity in his one spectacular person.

The incarnation is not only the way in which Jesus became Immanuel—God with us—but it’s an eternal testimony that he and his Father are unswervingly for us.


For more reflections on the person of Christ —

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Churchin Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He has edited and contributed to several books and is author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.Related:

 

Juicy Add!

What to Remember when You Read the Bible

 

 

Be a Christ Follower


Read all the cards and reflect on your life…

Hey there! I’m Emanuella. I’m a Christian. I have been a “good” Christian most of my life. It was my identity. I used to like to tell people how “good” I was, how I kept all the Commandments. I thought that was “Good”……

Then I realized something…I Failed!!! “Christian” was just a name I wore…kind of like a pretty coat over a dirty body…It didn’t match my heart. Here’s why:

If you were an Atheist or Agnostic or anything else…And if you didn’t agree with me…I would disdain you as a person. I feel like a hypocrite! I feel disgusting! And I can’t take it anymore! I wasn’t interested in being your “Friend”. I just wanted to change you. I thought that was my job.

Christianity is about being like “Christ”. Jesus loved everyone, First. If they didn’t accept what He said, He still loved them. Its not my job to change you, I can’t. But it’s my job to love you. That I can.

So this is an appeal to my Christian Brothers and Sisters, not all but some… stop the Damnation. Stop the Judgement. Stop the Religism. That’s not our business.

It doesn’t matter how well you can preach…How many Bible Verses you’ve memorized or How many people “think” you are all that. If you don’t have love, you’re nothing. Love is not a chore. Its a revelation. The Christ you serve revealed it in its purest form.

Gandhi said: “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.”

Don’t be one of “those”. This is an invitation…Start the LOVE…Join the movement…

 

Veneered Christianity

Jeff Clarke just wrote an interesting article about fake Christianity which is pervasive in the West.

He starts out: “If we want to connect with the world on our doorstep the Church must allow our collective experience of sadness to be our point of contact.”   I’d venture that it is not just sadness and pain we need to be honest about.  We need to be authentic in whatever state we Jesus followers find ourselves.

 

He says: ” The plastic, cheaply fabricated, celebrity-driven style of Christianity that has come to characterize a variety of churches in the West will never be able to effectively offer a healing response to the pain we carry within us and see around us.”  I say Amen!  Those outside see right through the veneer.   They know something is up and we are not being honest.   Drop the pose.   Remove the facades.   They are sin and so lets be honest and just admit that!!!   Be real dear believer!

Clarke’s solution:  “When we consciously integrate our lives with the person next door; when we allow ourselves the space to feel the depth of our own pain and loss, combined with the uncertainties we all experience; then and only then will we be in a position to effectively engage our world with an authentic, down-to-earth, real-life ministry of healing and restoration.” I like these thoughts. I do believe that much internal spiritual transformation is still needed in many who call themselves Jesus followers. The average Western Christian does not understand Jesus’ commands to take up a cross. We’ve had it too easy too long and we don’t know how to be authentic. There is so much group think in Christian circles.

Learning to embrace our pain

The Western church is largely unapproachable.

Are you approachable?   I find myself in a hurried state and miss opportunities to engage other hurting people.   We have to slow down and put the radar up for opportunities to support others.  If we aren’t willing to do this, those opportunities just won’t come.

Veneered Christianity

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that a celebrity mindset, combined with a love of the stage and performance, has not only disabled us from actually being able to minister to people, but has also made people feel like they can’t approach us because of the appearance of perfection we have so often communicated.

I believe Clarke is going after the large churches with following around the country and maybe some multi-site churches whose engagement to put on a show and even entertain for an hour or so.   We have to watch that the meetings are not make for TV, rather made for worship of Jesus and believer enrichment.

I’m tired

Clarke next comes up with some very classic “I’m Tired.” statement which are worth replicating here:

I’m tired of being forced to smile on the outside in an attempt to look the part, instead of giving myself the space to be vulnerable enough to express how I truly feel on the inside.

I’m tired of a plastic Christianity that tells us to wear a cookie-cutter, permanent smile, with veneers showing, to give the appearance that ‘all is well,’ when in reality we’re all tired, wishing we could just talk to someone about our pain.

I’m tired of Ken and Barbie pastors who love the stage and the bright lights, who love to talk about healing and restoration, but who lack the authenticity and depth to actually do anything about it; who minister ‘from a distance,’ rather than become intimately involved in the mess of the common.

I’m just tired. And, I think you are too.

Then,  “I want:”

I want the Church to grow into a genuinely caring community who aren’t afraid to be real and honest about their faults, failures, pain, questions and doubts.

I want the veneered Christianity we’ve become so comfortable with to quickly dissolve and to finally be honest with ourselves about how far removed we are from real-life, down-to-earth, biblical Christianity.

I want the Church to become forever dissatisfied with plastic Christianity and intentionally seek to replace it with a Jesus-centered, Jesus-shaped Gospel that allows love, humility and grace to inform and shape its identity and expression so that we can reach out to a world in pain with a message of hope, healing and restoration – and mean it.

I want Jesus to take center stage so that the spotlight will shine upon Him. 

And, I want Jesus to take center stage so that the spotlight will shine upon Him, and through Him, to the Church that bears His name, unto a world waiting for us to finally begin to show our true colors.

I have to agree Mr. Clarke.   So much the Western church needs to put away and forsake.   So much more also that we need to take up and put on.    We have a great model in a great Savior and more more we study Him and follow Him the better we will be.
Related:
Christian Week Article

Pushing Back the Dark

We all must push the dark of evil that surrounds us.  Don’t let it engulf you!  Push with all your strength and God’s strength who is your strength.

Read more of this post

Top Feature Christian Movies

 

 

 

America, Religion and Their History Together

Someone who has studied American history more than I has weighed in on what role religion or more importantly belief in God and America’s public forums.

I am speaking of Chief Justice Antonin Scalia.   His remarks were covered in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Below are quotes from the piece and not necessarily in the order presented there.

he asked. “To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another but can’t favor religion over non-religion?”

He also said  He said

Scalia said during the Sept. 11 attacks he was in Rome at a conference. The next morning, after a speech by President George W. Bush in which he invoked God and asked for his blessing,

“God has been very good to us.

  • That we won the revolution was extraordinary.
  • The Battle of Midway was extraordinary.
  • I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.
  • Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name, we do him honor.
  • In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways…”

“There is nothing wrong with that and do not let anybody tell you that there is anything wrong with that”

“God has been good to America because Americans have honored him.”

 “There is ‘nothing wrong’ with the idea of presidents and others invoking God in speeches.”

During the September 11 attacks Judge Scalia was at a conference of judges from multiple countries.  President George W. Bush spoke to the nation.  Bush invoked God and asked for His blessing in the speech.  “Scalia said many of the other judges approached him and said they wished their presidents or prime ministers would do the same.”

“To tell you the truth, there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?”

It did not come from American history.   The American history is full of references to God and His actions and favor.   It is full of quotes from the Bible.   Those quotes were made in Congress, by presidents, by governors, by people at all levels of government: federal, state and local.  American history is riddled with references to God, quotes from the Bible, stories about how God worked on multiple levels and with authentic faith in God on the part of the persons speaking or writing.

God was daily in the public discourse in an honorable way and He was not shouted down.  He was revered with the presupposition that wisdom would come forth and wisdom, His wisdom, would prevail.

We are there now.  Will we get back to that state? If not, what will be our state in the future?

Related:

Judge Scalia

Binge Drinking

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Says Hanna Lottritz: “Binge drinking nearly killed me: Underage student who was left in a coma from alcohol poisoning pens powerful essay warning others about the dangers of heavy partying”

  • Hanna Lottritz, who turned 21 recently, from Reno, Nevada, wrote about her alcohol poisoning in a post shared on her blog 
  • The then-20-year-old was at a music festival and started chugging whiskey before she passed out 
  • Hanna was air-lifted to the hospital where it was revealed her blood alcohol concentration was five times over the legal limit

Note Hanna’s conclusion regarding her situation and others in a similar situation:

This situation could have been so much worse. Fortunately for me, I had good people around when all of this took place. I could have easily been taken advantage of when I passed out. I could’ve been left alone to “sleep it off.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,” but I’m alive today because my friends got me help. Don’t take a chance if you see a friend passed out from drinking too much. Get them help as soon as possible. I’m very lucky to have made a full recovery, but I know there are others who won’t be as lucky. So please drink responsibly and make sure your friends do too. Watch out for friends, family, even strangers, and take care of them when you suspect they might be suffering from alcohol poisoning. Know the symptoms.

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How To Stop Sexualizing Everything

The following article was taken from The Federalist. The Federalist holds full rights to its content.

Our society needs a phileo resurgence so we can express ourselves with the
How To Stop Sexualizing Everythingnonsexual passion and love we really feel.
“Bye, I love you!” I said as I hung up the phone. My 15-year-old daughter was in the car at the time and asked who I was talking to. “My friend, Leslie, from Texas.”

“A woman?” she said. “That’s just weird, mom.”

I laughed. “No it’s not. She’s my friend and I do love her very much. Why shouldn’t I tell her that?”

My daughter just shook her head and said, “It’s kinda gay, don’t you think?”

“No, it’s not gay. I have friends I kiss, too—on the lips! And I hug them and I get excited when I see them. I adore them, and I’m devoted to them. I have friends who captivate me with their beauty and intelligence. I tell them so. I tell them I think they’re beautiful and amazing. It’s nothing sexual. It’s phileo.”

“What’s phileo?” she asked.

“It’s friendship love,” I explained. “It’s passionate, but not like erotic love. It’s wonderful and stimulating. It’s probably the best kind of love when you really experience it, but so few of us do.”

She shook her head again. “Mom, you’re weird.”

I guess I am kind of weird. I confess: I’m very passionate about my friends. But am I the abnormal one, or is there something wrong with our society? My daughter isn’t unusual, and her response was pretty typical. Many people have that reaction to women who are passionate about their friends—and even more so for men!

‘Bromance’ Needs to Go So Friendship Can Survive

Just this morning I was watching Fox NFL Sunday, and Terry Bradshaw was talking about how he was excited by Howie Long the first time he saw him play. The eruption of uncomfortable laughter was expected. But he kept on, saying how Long “took his breath away”—which incited even more snickers.

Instead of friendship being noble, nonromantic, and normal, it has become the exception, romanticized to the point that we’re uncomfortable describing and experiencing it.

While I grinned, having seen this same scenario played out over and over again, I was also saddened, because I saw it as just one more knock on a kind of love we desperately need in our lives—passionate, nonsexual love. But we’re so uncomfortable with the expression of intimate, familiar feelings among men that we’ve given it its own name—bromance. David and Jonathan. Lewis and Clark. Clooney and Pitt. Bromances. Not friendships.

I wish “bromance” would disappear from the American lexicon forever. That’s because it represents everything that’s wrong with our culture when it comes to friendship. Instead of friendship being noble, nonromantic, and normal, it has become the exception, romanticized to the point that we’re uncomfortable describing it and experiencing it for what it is. Even as we try to distinguish it from homosexuality, we are corrupting real friendship by placing it in the context of romance.

In his famous book, “The Four Loves,” published in 1960, C.S. Lewis talked about this very thing. Friendship is a love that is rationally and freely chosen as you gravitate toward people who share the same interests and passions as you. It’s not a relationship that arises out of organic connections, such as mutual affection in families and communities, or the driving need of erotic love that sweeps you away by the impulses of nature. It’s a choice made between people who have shared interests that lead to common bonds and deep love. It’s a powerful love that enriches people’s lives and forms the foundation of a stable society.

How Romanticism and Puritanism Corrupts Friendship

The problem with our modern culture is friendship has been corrupted. Lewis says it began with the age of sentimentality and romanticism. Friendship love, with its blend of individuality and community, rationality and freedom of choice, as well as its deep intimacy, raises us “to the level of gods or angels.” But then came romanticism with its return to nature and exaltation of sentiment, instinct, and the “dark gods in the blood.”

This tight control on feelings seeped into our culture, worsened by Victorian aloofness.

“Under this new dispensation,” Lewis writes, “all that had once commended this love [friendship] now began to work against it.” A culture riding the wave of passion abandoned phileo for eros, and the effects on society have been devastating in ways people don’t begin to understand.

While Lewis puts the blame of phileo’s decline at the feet of romanticism, I think there is another culprit. Puritanism and Victorian sensibilities have also played a role in friendship’s decline. Puritanism*** put a damper on passions as if they are the seat of evil within the soul. Passionate friendships between opposite sexes weren’t allowed as women were shuffled into the kitchen while the men discussed business among themselves in the study. Showing feeling—especially in a physical way—even in same-sex friendships was discouraged, and while the Puritans were hardly stoic, they guarded against passion outside of marriage and the expression of too much “worldly” feeling.

This tight control on feelings seeped into our culture, worsened by Victorian aloofness. We became a society that shook hands instead of kissed. Posture, decorum, and propriety put space even in the most intimate associations. The picture of the separate beds was typical in the 1950s with Ward and June Cleaver, Rob and Laura Petrie, and Jim and Margaret Anderson. It wasn’t until 1969 with the Bradys did we see TV couples snuggling up to one another in the marriage bed.

The effect of these two warring attitudes—Puritanism and sexualization—has had a distorting effect on friendship.

This embellished modesty continued to play a role in American culture even into the new millennium. But something else was also taking place—the sexual revolution, a romanticized reaction to America’s Puritanical attitudes. Everything became about sex, and this sexualization of our culture has become more intense over time. Just look at advertising. Teeth whitening, floor cleaners, automobiles, dolls, food, drinks, make-up, even bubble gum—all associated with sex. Common things that are completely asexual have sexuality attached to it. Everything is about sex. We’re saturated with it.

The effect of these two warring attitudes—Puritanism and sexualization—has had a distorting effect on friendship. On the one hand, people don’t feel free to show emotions. On the other, when they do, those feelings are sexualized.

Meet Steve and Paul

Let me illustrate this point with two men—let’s call them Steve and Paul—who are both very expressive in their feelings. This is an important distinction because it’s no accident that the top personality types by a large margin for people who identity as homosexual are “feeling types” —INFP and INFJ for women, and ESFJ and ENFJ for men.

They don’t feel comfortable expressing those feelings because the specter of Puritan modesty restrains them.

Steve and Paul—two highly extroverted-feeling men—meet one another and they have an immediate connection and common interests. The effect of a Puritanical attitude still pervasive in our culture says “Don’t show affection, be controlled with your feelings.” But that’s not who they are. They’re passionate. They feel deeply and need to express those feelings. They love their friends; the feelings are all there on the surface. But they don’t feel comfortable expressing those feelings because the specter of Puritan modesty restrains them.

Maybe, if they lived in times past, when men had places where they could really connect as men, they could express themselves in some way. But that’s not the case in modern culture with fluid interaction between the sexes and lack of “man-only space.” So what do they do with their feelings now? Suppress them or show them?

One would hope they can simply show them, but because of the impact of sexualization, they interpret that expression in a sexual way. As a result, the two men either don’t want to be thought of as gay (because they’re not, not because they necessarily think homosexuality is wrong), and they withdraw. Or, they begin to doubt and wonder, Am I gay?

They don’t want to have sex with each other. They’re simply men who feel and express deep passions and feelings.

“I get excited when I’m with Paul,” Steve says to himself. “He puts a spring in my step just talking to him. I’m stimulated by his intellect and insight. He makes me feel more alive after talking to him than I did before. Those feelings are so strong they must be sexual. I must be gay.” Paul feels the same. But they’re not gay at all. They don’t want to have sex with each other. They’re simply men who feel and express deep passions and feelings, and they want to connect with someone with common interests.

When this scenario happens to young people, it can cause a great deal of confusion, especially as society at large (particularly in the schools and pop culture) pushes people toward homosexual relationships. Instead of teaching children what it means to be a friend and modeling real friendships in a healthy way, we are defining everything in sexual terms.

Stimulating Confusion Over Sexuality

The more friendship is misunderstood and ignored, the more people will identify as homosexual and bisexual. The more we condition our perceptions in a sexual way and the more children are exposed to sex even before they develop meaningful friendships, the less likely they will be able to separate healthy nonsexual feelings from sexual ones. Sex will become the defining feature of all their feelings. Eros will have slain phileo.

Many people confuse phileo with eros because either they aren’t free to express it or they see it through an overlay of sexualization (or both).

Gallup issued a poll a few years ago that found an increase in homosexuality. More and more people are identifying as gay, and this isn’t just because they’re coming out of the closet. If that were the case, older people would be identifying as gay at an increasing rate. But this isn’t what’s happening. The increases are among younger people more affected by a sexualized culture coupled with an acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

My point is not to say there are no genuine homosexual relationships. There are. But I do think many people confuse phileo with eros because either they aren’t free to express it or they see it through an overlay of sexualization (or both). I think the fact that most people who think they’re homosexual and bisexual are high on the “feeling” personality scale by overwhelming margins gives some support to this.

I’m certainly a case in point. I’m an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving). The number of lesbians with this personality type is much higher than any other (though it’s not the only type by any means). I feel passionate about people, my friends in particular. Men or women, I love them in a very intimate way. They make my heart pound, my cheeks flush, and my face glow.

I’m 100 percent straight and so confident in that fact that I can kiss my female friends and tell them I love them.

Though I’m an introvert, I need people to fill me up—just in a more quiet way. My best friend, Kate, for example, delights me just by being in her presence. I can talk to her for hours and I leave happier than before I saw her. I love to wrap my arms around her and feel her warmth. I have another friend who is a constant source of joy, and every time I see her name in my email inbox, I smile. Whenever I go to DC where she lives, I get excited at the possibility of seeing her, hearing her voice, and watching her expressive brown eyes light up when she laughs.

Does that sound gay? Probably some of you think so. But I’m not gay. I’m 100 percent straight and so confident in that fact that I can kiss my female friends and tell them I love them. I can get excited about male friends without it becoming erotic. But I’ve had to develop that confidence in the face of a culture that both disapproves of such expressions and defines them in a sexualized context.

Strong Feelings Aren’t Always About Sex

I’m afraid young people today don’t have such clarity. If they’re the type of person who emotes deeply and passionately, either internally or externally, then they might question their sexuality when experiencing phileo. The INFP girl feels intimate with her friend in a way that makes her heart race, and she thinks it must be sexual, even if she doesn’t immediately feel erotic toward her friend. The ENFJ man who needs to express his emotions with others and feel deep connections confuses his passion for friends with erotic feelings.

Friendship is the greatest guard against a tyrannical society that wants to divide individuals and control them.

The result of this distortion is either a rejection of phileo—they fail to engage in meaningful friendships, choosing to remain shallow and disconnected—or they sacrifice phileo on the altar of eros, engaging in sexual behavior that really isn’t an expression of their true selves. If they’re truly gay, that erotic expression would be a relief, but for so many it isn’t. It’s a time of confusion and struggle (and not simply because of society’s disapproval). That confusion happens because there’s a disconnect within them, a disconnect that could be fixed if they had the freedom to enjoy the deep intimacy of love between friends, fully expressed and fully appreciated in a nonsexual, but stimulating way.

I think one of the greatest dangers of our sexualized culture has nothing to do with typical morality about sex as we understand it. It has to do with the deterioration of true, deep friendships. Friendship is the greatest guard against a tyrannical society that wants to divide individuals and control them. Friendship fosters healthy communities and promotes mutual affection, which brings about the greatest good for a society.

Friendship makes people happy and actually strengthens marriages. The rise of polyamory is one example relating to this final point. One of the biggest arguments for polyamory (many sexual partners in a relationship) is that one person isn’t enough. “I need more than just my husband,” one polyamorist told me.

I agree! Nothing (besides being completely alone) is more unfulfilling than to have no friends and just be with one person your whole life. That person simply can’t meet all your emotional needs (especially if you’re a deep-feeling personality). You need more people. But what you need are friends—real, loving friends—not more sexual relationships.

Vive la Difference

Polyamory is a glaring example of how phileo is being lost to eros in our modern age. It’s devastating, because eros is not the same as phileo. It’s not as stable. It’s explosive and full of dark urges and needs. It’s a throaty passion that can end badly and lead to tragedy.

The beauty of friendship, as opposed to erotic relationships, is that we can have many as we connect and love without jealousy and suspicion.

Phileo is cooler (though still passionate). It’s rational and inclusive. If anyone dies on account of phileo, it’s not a tragedy of passion like Romeo and Juliet. It’s like Achilles and Patroclus, who took Achilles’ place in battle and was struck down by Hector. In grief for his lost friend, Achilles entered the fray and killed so many that their corpses clogged the river. Some have tried to impose homosexual love onto this story, but there’s no proof of that, and why should there be? Nonsexual love can be powerful—and beautiful.

Our society needs a phileo resurgence, to discard the sexualized overlay on our relationships and express ourselves with the nonsexual passion and love we really feel. The reward is stability, wholeness, and a deep satisfaction as we connect with other people in an intimate way. The world is filled with amazing people of all different types. The beauty of friendship, as opposed to erotic relationships, is that we can have many as we connect and love without jealousy and suspicion.

C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: What? You too, I thought no one but myself…” We’ve put that joy in the context of erotic attraction for far too long. Let’s shift it toward phileo and allow ourselves to feel the excitement and passion that follows as we join together in the ideal bonds of friendship, free from the trappings and crazed fervor of sex. The reward will be profound as our hearts are filled, our minds are calmed, and our lives are enriched beyond our imagining.

Denise C. McAllister is a journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @McAllisterDen.
 *** Blogger’s words:   Not all of Puritanism is/was bad.  John Owen and many other Puritans left us a great heritage of understanding and wisdom.  Get it.
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