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It’s time to uncover the glorious conclusion about our “Jesus as a regular Joe” series. What is this all about? What is the point I am trying to make in suggesting that Jesus might just be more one of us…or we might just be more “one of him”…than we once thought?
After much thought and study, I have come to highly suspect that we have all been lied to, and it has delivered a devastating blow in its effects upon humanity. If you are raised your whole life as a Christian to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” but then you are told your whole life that you can never do what Jesus did, it creates terrible internal dissonance. You find yourself always teetering on an impossible precipice between hope and despair, always overshadowed by a gloomy cloud of failure.
On the one hand, you’re ever trying to be like Jesus. On the other hand, you’re ever being told you could never be like Jesus because you’re a wretched, filthy, sinning scumbag of the earth, somehow barely snatched from deserved eternal wrath and torture by your Deity’s pitying, undeserved mercy. All the while, Jesus is an impossibly out of reach standard for your life.
But is this really what is at the heart of Scriptures and The Story? There are many curious Scriptures that, if you raise them to your Christian friends and teachers, you suddenly become a blasphemous heretic just for daring to ask what appears in black and white.
For example, in the pages of your Bible*, you will read that Jesus is a firstborn among many brothers and sisters of humanity—both groups referred to as “offspring of God”—who are also referred to as equal heirs to God’s love, creative and healing power, glory, and promises.
Think about it. If you have an older brother or sister, they may have a place of honor or special acting authority in the family (especially in Eastern cultures as evidenced by the birthright and the blessing), but they are no more and no less the product of the parents than the rest of the children in the family. All the children in the household share the same genetic essence of the parents, the same value to the parents, and the same plans for a promising future in the parental estate. Did not Abraham send Ishmael away with a blessing? And did not Jacob give to each of his twelve sons a blessing? Did not the prodigal’s father grant him his inheritance before he left the household? Did not Jesus himself say that we would do even greater things than he?
The Scriptures tell us* that, just like Jesus, we are all being fashioned into the exact image of God as partakers of His divine nature. When this process has finished working its magic, we will all be exactly like Jesus in all the ways that matter (love and unity of spirit), yet exactly who we are made to be as unique individuals in a great orchestra of humanity. This is the meaning of Genesis 1. It is we who are being transitioned from darkness to light, from evening to morning, from formlessness to intricate perfection, from chaos to order, from barrenness to fruitfulness. God is calling light to shine forth in the darkness of our own hearts, making us into the image of the Divine. Yes…it’s true…
Our Scriptures even teach us* that we are in the process of awakening to our divinity. Being divine does not mean that we are God (locate a dictionary); it means that we are created out of the same essence of God as a unique expression of Him. Every person who ever lived is like a divine piece of God-puzzle, coming together to create a fuller picture of what/who is God. Just as the 30 trillion cells of our bodies all come together to express our being in a way that can be consciously experienced, so I believe that all people who have ever lived will one day come together as one in purpose to express God in a way we can all fully experience Him through the totality of creativity, love, and light. The joy of those days will be unspeakable.
As we have explored together over the last few weeks, there is little historical evidence for most of the teachings that have eternally distanced us from the real Jesus and, hence, from our Father. For one, that Jesus is God in totality. If Jesus was actually God in a way that I am not, how would that make my daily reality any better? Of course that Jesus could overcome adversity. But how in the heck would that help me in my broken humanity? How is that supposed to inspire me to overcome anything when I’m infinitely inferior? Yet that’s not the Jesus we read about in Hebrews 2:17:
“For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God.”
It’s true that Jesus could be fully human and fully God-ness (God’s DNA/offspring/son), but what I believe we are supposed to take away is that, SO ARE YOU; SO AM I.
Right now I’m reading friend Jim Palmer’s inspiring book, Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live YOUR Life. It’s a book I highly recommend, as Palmer explores many of the things we’re contemplating here in a relatable and engaging way. Yesterday, as luck would have it, I came across some wonderful additions for this blog entry:
Whenever I consciously tried to be Jesus by emulating what I imagine he might do, the acts seemed artificial and manufactured. I felt as though I were an actor in a performance—reading from a script, playing the part of someone I wasn’t. Jesus of Nazareth was a historical person who lived two thousand years ago. Truth is, I was never going to “be Jesus” any more than I could be President Obama, Kobe Bryant, my next-door neighbor Steven—or any other person than myself.
Ever since embarking on this journey of being Jesus in Nashville, I’d felt almost as if I were suffering from some multiple personality disorder. Coexisting in one body there was Jim the author…and Jim, the guy who was trying to be Jesus in Nashville. …Yet, religion had taught me that I needed to be saved from myself. I might be forgiven, but I was still unacceptable to God apart from Jesus, so he looked straight through me and saw Jesus instead. This point was emphatically made by a Christian friend of mine who explained it this way, “I am a piece of shit without Jesus. If you take Jesus out of me, I am nothing.”
Palmer goes on to say what happened next for him:
Over the course of my research, I’d discovered that I was born with the innate potential to be a human expression of God. I was created in God’s image, God’s being was the source of my being, and I shared in the same divine ancestry as Jesus, which is why he called me “brother.” The deepest, most defining dimension of my true identity is that I am one with God. I’d been born with this identity intact, and there is nothing I can do to diminish this fact of who I am. …I could see that religion was offered as a solution to a problem that never existed, and consequently, became the problem itself. …My dependency upon religion had siphoned off the energy I could have used to develop that divine seed of potential within me.
The truth is, there is nothing regular about Jesus. But neither is there anything regular about you or me. Jesus is our prototype and our proof (read more here)—we are sons of God with all the rights and destiny of Jesus. I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but the Christ lives in me, AS ME. Jesus came to show the way for us, as one of us. His divine nature should inspire and empower us more, not less, as we come into the secret of our worth and identity in God! Let the angels of heaven sing for joy, for we are being birthed into the very likeness and image of our Father.
And now I leave you with a few inspiring quotes.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:14-19, selected).
“And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God” (Rom. 9:26).
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).
*See Psalm 82:6-7; Mt. 5:9 & 13:43; Luke 6:35; John 10: 34-36; Acts 17: 22-30; Rom. 8:16-29; Eph. 1:5; Col. 1:27; 1 John 3:2.