He became the reconciling place where opposites met. He was the meeting place of God and man. Man the aspiring and God the inspiring meet in Him. Heaven and earth came together and are forever reconciled. The material and the spiritual after their long divorce have in Him found their reconciliation. The natural and the supernatural blend into one in His life- you cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. The passive and the militant are so one in Him that He is militantly passive and passively militant. The gentle qualities of womanhood and the sterner qualities of manhood so mingle that both men and women see in Him their ideal- and the revelation of the Fatherhood and the Motherhood of God. The activism of the West and the meditative passivism of the East come together in Him and are forever reconciled. The new individual, born from above, and the new society- the Kingdom of God on earth- are both offered to us in Him.
• E. Stanley Jones, “The Sign is a Baby.”
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Jesus often calls his followers to make choices — decisive choices. There are two ways, and only one can be chosen. In the present, we must choose to be citizens of the Kingdom of heaven or citizens in the city of Man. Today, the choice may be between Christ and family, or even between Christ and my right hand or my right eye.
At the same time, as Jones says so well, Jesus ultimately brings together so much of what sin has separated. Heaven comes to earth and the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our God, and of his Messiah. He reconciles us to what we may have sacrificed for him. Remember these words?
Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
• Mark 10:28-31
Jones tells us that it is in Jesus, this reconciliation is real and exceeds our imaginations. In Romans 8, Paul sees the reconciliation of all things that began in Christ.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
• Romans 8:18-21
It is Jesus, a human baby who is the sign of the presence of this bringing together of all things now.
In Jesus, the opposites that seemed irreconcilable come together before our very eyes.
I think it important to note that much of what Jones points out as being reconciled in Jesus is the stuff of conflicts and condemnation within the evangelical community, and especially in the blogosphere. Can we use mother imagery of God? Is the Christian life active or contemplative? Should we renounce all material concerns and enjoyments in order to be spiritual? Are “naturalists” or “supernaturalists” the superior species of Christian?
These and many other debates demonstrate that we are not so much students of Jesus as we are team competitors seeking to make Jesus into the mascot for our particular set of opinions.
Christian Humanism declares that, in Jesus, the light of God has shone on the human sphere and illumined everything. While God and his creation are separate, we no longer believe that anything exists apart from its God conceived shape, essence and purpose. All things existed in the mind of God before they existed in reality, and in that moment, opposites are reconciled. We believe that the “Godness” and the “this world-ness” of all things are visible in the incarnation of Jesus.
As we contemplate the incarnation visible at Christmas, the “sign” of God’s salvation of all things in his fallen universe, we should consider all that is brought together in Jesus. We should remember that much of what we cast aside as irreconcilable will ultimate come together in the Kingdom of God. Jesus is not only God with us, but he is the revelation of a vision of reality that embraces all things in the love God expresses for his incarnated Son, Jesus Christ.
The character of an emerging, post-evangelical Christianity should be strongly influenced by a God who looks less like us, but in whom we discover the true face of all people, and the true purpose of all things. Life’s opposites are not given to us only to make choices — which is always necessary — but to magnify God in Christ in a thousand ways we never thought possible.