Tuesday, July 24, 2007

God with us? IV


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning ...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

- John 1.1-2, 14.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling – or literally, ‘tabernacled’ – among us. This one who is the expression of God, set up his tent of flesh and blood. He lived amongst us humans, as a human. Just as God’s glory had dwelled amongst Israel in a tent in the wilderness, so John says we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.

The disciples did not see a pillar of fire or God’s glory in the tabernacle like the Israelites. They saw the glory of the One who had come from the Father. According to John, this glory was seen in his obedience to his Father (17.4), in his betrayal (13.30-31), suffering and death (12.23-24). This was a surprising manifestation of God’s glory: he was crowned king (19:14, 19), but with a crown of thorns (19:2). He was lifted up (3:14; 12:32), but upon a cross. This is God’s glorious presence. This is what it looks like: a peasant being unjustly executed by a brutal regime. This deconstructs all our assumptions about God’s presence. If God is on our side, perhaps this is what it will look like. Not fame, success, security and comfort, but difficulty, pain, loss and humiliation. Grace and truth are costly. Obedience is not an easy road. To walk with God is to carry a cross. If God is with us, it might look and feel more like dying than victory. If God is on our side, or rather, if we’re on God’s side, we ought to expect to often seem to be losing. We ought to be surprised and wary if we seem to be always amongst the powerful, if we find ourselves rich and comfortable. God’s glorious presence was found most decisively in one who lived amongst the outcast and was himself rejected and despised.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

- John 1.17-18

Jesus has made the invisible God known; he embodied God with us. He was even called Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’. God has been on the side of humanity and that is what it looked like. We need to keep on putting our ideas of what God is like, of what it is like for God to be with us, through Jesus, who has brought grace and truth. We don’t get to decide what we think God is like, what we think God’s presence might be like. We might like to think of God in a particular way, but unless he looks Christ-shaped, cross-shaped, then we’re fooling ourselves. To ignore Jesus, even to honour him as one among many, is to ignore God amongst us.
Five points for the identity of the statue. Five more to translate the Greek. Five more to give the NT reference. And fifteen if you can guess the city in which the picture was taken. No more than one correct guess per person.
Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI.


Anthony Douglas said...

It's a lovely way to spin Ps 46, isn't it?

No more than one correct guess per poster? Hmm. So if I can translate the Greek, thereby identifying the two potential NT references, and the two potential speakers/statues, I have a quandary.

The only solution is to suggest it is Philip speaking from John 11:34, and make sure that I get the Greek wrong. 'Sum and key', perhaps, reflecting the place of the cross in understanding the presence of God.

Oh, and I have to guess the city wrong. Well, the statue looks more like Abe Lincoln than anyone else, so I'll say Washington DC.

Yes, this was a brazen attempt to get more points than the maximum.

byron smith said...

Very brazen. I'm not going to say anything more for the moment.

byron smith said...

I'll give you five points, though won't say for which answer.

Anthony Douglas said...

I just knew it was Lincoln!

Matthew Moffitt said...

Well, if Anthony has got the greek wrong, then may I suggest "come and see."

byron smith said...

Yes, you may. Five points.