Enjoying Our Humanity
Welcome to the new year of 2013! For my first post this year I would like to share some thoughts about the humanity of Jesus.
Most of the people I know who follow Jesus believe like I do that he is the God-man. He is fully God and fully man at the same time. I believe that the God who created the universe came to the earth in the form of a man named Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus laid aside all his divine power and came to earth as a sinless human being.
It is interesting to me that while many people who are not followers of Jesus don’t believe in his divinity, the same seems to be true among many followers of Jesus in regard to his humanity. We Christians just seem to be uncomfortable talking about and thinking about the humanity of Jesus. We are quick to acknowledge his divinity – the miracles, the holiness, the power, the resurrection, etc. but slower to acknowledge that he was a human like us who experienced temptation, exhaustion, irritation, anger, etc. As Leonard Sweet recently pointed out, Jesus even complained about having to put up with a faithless generation! (and yet, he was still without sin according to the Bible).
For us who are followers of Jesus he is the model and pattern for our lives. He was fully human and yet without sin. We don’t really know what this looks like. How many sinless humans do you know? Jesus was and is one. (Note that he never laid aside his humanity, even after the resurrection. The man Jesus is in heaven today ruling the universe. Yes, he is God, but he is also still a man)
What would it mean for us as humans to live a life that is pleasing to God? Jesus is our example. Reading the gospels through in a modern translation and taking note of what Jesus says, does and feels can give us some idea of what that life looks like.
What does a holy human being really look like? Does it mean someone who never gets angry – who never yells? Does it mean someone who is never tempted by sin? Does it mean someone who never takes time to rest or just to have fun? Does it mean that this person spends their life isolated from other people in the mountains praying and studying Scriptures all day? Does it mean someone who is always serving others and never has anytime for themselves to just have fun and be renewed? I think the answer to all these questions is no.
The life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament is our model and pattern for what it means to live a full, exciting and holy life pleasing to God. He lived his life as a man depending on the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and he was in fellowship at all times with the heavenly Father. Can we do this? I think we can. Sure we are going to sin and come short of love’s perfection many times but our Father in heaven has already provided our pardon and forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus.
In the gospels and the New Testament epistles we see that Jesus got angry with people, yelled at them, (e.g. I don’t think he said “you brood of vipers!” to the Pharisees in a quiet gentle voice) was tempted by sin just like we are (yet he never gave in to temptation and sinned), had times for rest and recreation and was so approachable that the common people loved to be around him. In fact he was so at home among the type of people that the existing religious establishment branded as “sinners” that the religious leaders became furious with him. They called him a drunkard and a glutton and a friend of sinners. When was the last time a religious person got mad at you for spending too much time with individuals whom they perceive to be sinners?
In some of the churches I attended when I was younger I was taught to stay away from people that did not follow Christ so that they would not “infect” me with their sinful ways. How can we ever relate to a world that Jesus loves if we stay cloistered within our sacred church walls and never make friends with people who don’t believe the way we do? Jesus was love and holiness combined in one person. He reached out to the broken and to the people bound by sin and showed them compassion. He had so much humility that he did not come across in a condescending way at all when he related to people caught in the snares of sin.
I have been reading through the gospel of John again and I am noticing some time gaps of two or three months during his three and one half year ministry in which not much was recorded. Jesus did not seem to do any miracles or give any great teaching sessions during these periods of time... Could it be possible that Jesus merely hung out with his friends and led a somewhat unspectacular life during these times?
I mean could it be that some days he did not heal any sick people, cast out any demons, lead any prayer meetings or preach any sermons? Do you think he was sinning if he had a day like this? Sometimes I think we are so caught up in our Christian programs and duties and obligations that we forget to just be human beings who are living our lives in the Presence of a Father who delights in us. It is ok to be human. It is ok to be ourselves. It is ok to enjoy some good music and hang out at the park with your friends. It's more than ok - it's pleasing to the Lord when we enjoy life! Jesus and the Father delight in us just the way we are with all our imperfections. Let’s be human beings who are down to earth, real, and friends of sinners as well as friends of Jesus.