20. In taking on the form of Christ, we are making God present again and with the people.
The Hands and Feet of Christ
When I first realized the implications of Paul’s statement, it scared me.
As metaphor, referring to the followers of Jesus as his hands and feet is pure beauty. Think about it! It’s a fantastic image for the power of the people to engage in the mission of the church!
But then I did with it what I do with Scripture. I thought about it another way. And I started to wonder if we should take the statement more directly.
I’m not a literalist. Don’t make that mistake. But I’m also trying to be non-dualist. And one of the problems with the modern mind is its ability to disengage from our subject matter. So when we call something a metaphor, we disengage with the idea and put a barrier between us and what we’re talking about.
In other words, calling ourselves the hands and feet of Christ, an image designed to show an intimate relationship to Jesus begins to show distance. We are merely “empowered” to do his work. And by “empowered” we mean authorized. And by authorized, we really mean given the opportunity.
By opportunity, we mean we could. If we aren’t too busy.
Somehow, being the very means of Jesus’s activity in the world becomes “hey, ya think we oughta do something nice for somebody this week?”
Paul is speaking to a greater intimacy than that.
If we take the image more seriously, we get a more serious faith. We more dangerously speak of not only being followers of Jesus, but being the Jesus people see. And the modern mind hates this. It wants to believe we’re being literal. Just like those first Romans thought the first followers were cannibals for talking about eating flesh and drinking blood.
But I’m willing to flirt with the edge of our understanding if it means we get closer to the point. If doing so helps push us into a new, more honest space.
So what if, in our presence with each other, in our grouping and forming community, we see Jesus. With us and in us. That we are being Jesus. Being. Not just acting like Jesus, but enfleshing Jesus. We are making Jesus be.
In being Jesus, we are bringing God here.
We had a big public conversation in the last year about the word “again”. But I use it here intentionally, knowing that:
- God is the ground of all being
- God is present in everything
- God never left or leaves
- God is with us
- God is here
But I say
In taking on the form of Christ, we are making God present again and with the people.
because our action is always creating and recreating. Our work is always doing and making new.
It isn’t saying God isn’t here, its saying every time we do this, we invite God again. Every time, we are inviting, encouraging, and welcoming God. We host God like a friend, like the Prodigal God. We reflect the welcome and grace-filled love God gives us every time. Each time, again!
Each time, when we gather. Again! Each time when we love, be with people, we be God into being. Present in love.
[This is Thesis #20 of my 31 Theses. To read them all, visit the 31 Theses introduction page.]