31. We could with common voice, spirit, and heart, embody the love embodied in Jesus.
All of the ways we experience God paint a portrait of the loving character of God.
We see God in creation. We read about God in both Hebrew and Greek Scripture: what we call the Bible. And we meet God in the people around us.
All of these is an encounter with the divine–an event in our lives–a tear in the fabric of the cosmos and an explosion of opportunity. Each one is a part and yet the whole.
Each an individual and an everything.
In the many pieces we retrieve a picture of hope from the back of our brains. A recalled memory of a time when we felt so alone; we thought no one would find us. We thought we’d be lost forever.
From that picture of isolation, we also see an outstretched hand, open and inviting. An invitation and a connection. It comes as a spark to bring life to a dead circuit.
And we know we aren’t alone.
Those images of isolation are replaced with friendship and community. We know in our flesh and bones what it means to be seen and known and loved.
God is Three and One
That’s the power of the Trinitarian image. Not the crap one we offer as some lame excuse to answer the metaphysical question of the divinity of Jesus. The mystical one offered outside the West. The vision which has God be always Three and One, but never, ever has to be only one.
God is never alone.
For God to be love, God must always be subject and object of love. God is love and also relationship. So God is also community and hope and opportunity.
The very nature of God, like the mission of God, is relationship; community.
God is three and one, individual and community together, simultaneously.
Jesus is love and community, too
Both the nature and character of Jesus are to be like God’s, as the manifestation of God. If God is love, then Jesus is love. At least in the manifestation of God’s love in the incarnation: in the coming to hang with humanity for a few decades.
But we see it in the way Jesus embodies and provokes our love and community with him and with one another. Jesus is not just some answer to a metaphysical question, but God’s love in the flesh.
This relationship embodies the saying Tripp Fuller is famous for:
God should be at least as nice as Jesus.
That’s not only because Jesus is awesome and God’s awesome and we’re all awesome by some philosophical framework, but because that’s how God’s nature is constantly revealed. We see God is awesome through Jesus being awesome. Not from some distant observation platform with binoculars, but because we are living this junk out.
God is awesome because Jesus keeps showing up in my life to prove it. And by awesome, I don’t mean the Bible awesome only. I mean freaking cool and amazing and remarkable. Because I know amazing people who show me what God’s love looks like.
And it’s generous and undeserved and it gets to me when I’m low and gives me hope.
And that’s the whole freakin’ ballgame.
A Jubilee Kin-dom of Awesome
This is why Jesus spends the whole time collecting rejects and healing people and telling dope stories about the people who are so far back in line, they don’t even bother standing in it. Except in Jesus’s stories, they get to be first. He talks about strangers doing good stuff friends wouldn’t and a Dad bringing his estranged son back to the family.
Jesus doesn’t go around telling people to pay it forward. He doesn’t give people the secret code to unlock eternity. And he sure as heck doesn’t act like a corporate CEO bilking millions from people and then lying to Congress.
The one thing Jesus does over and over is bring the kin-dom closer. He does kin-dom junk every second of every day. And the number one thing he can do to make that happen? Get people to join in.
Because the kin-dom doesn’t just happen because one dude, even Jesus, wills it to. It happens when we do this for and with each other.
So Jesus wakes up every day, brushes his teeth, and thinks about the kin-dom. That’s got to be his morning routine. I don’t know what his order is or his grooming habits, but I know “make the kin-dom happen today” is in there somewhere.
And he does this with the men and women walking around, healing and teaching and being good freakin’ samaritans for people.
Being love in community
The whole ballgame is that. Being love in community with everybody.
That’s what scared the pious young man away. Not just ’cause Jesus told him to sell his XBox and his yacht. The dude wanted this on his own, for him, and that’s it. And Jesus invited him to join the community. That’s why he freaked out.
This is how Christians of every tribe have wandered away from Jesus at the very time Jesus is coming to be with them. Like the people in the wilderness, grumbling about food when God is with them, chilling out as a cloud.
We can do this, like some big game of telephone. Only it isn’t a message whispered in our ears, but “withness,” our presence with each other, being Jesus for people like God is being Jesus with humanity.
We get to love and build community and that’s actually us doing the work. That’s living and moving and having our being in profound holiness.
That’s why a church is less like a stage performance at a theater, a concert in a stadium, or a tour of a museum, and more like community organizing. Because we don’t come for a show, but to actually do stuff together. To learn how to love and then to go out and love.
And every time we leave, we bring love to someone who needs love like that’s the most important thing we can do.
Every place we take that love, we make Jesus present.
Every person we share time with, gets face time with Jesus.
So we aren’t alone. We’re never alone.
And our mission can’t be done alone. We need to bring the kin-dom close. And that’ll take a bunch of people. All of us, pulling as one. Because ultimately, we are one. We already are one.
[This is Thesis #31 of my 31 Theses. To read them all, visit the 31 Theses introduction page.]