“Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid.”—Abraham Joshua Heschel
God is a dirty word in the 21st century—synonymous with power-hungry, war-mongering, self-righteous, ignorant people who cannot speak with love and will not listen to reason. He is a faceless idea embodied in the lives of graceless people.
It is understood that thinking people cannot have any place in their lives for an exclusive idea that binds their minds to an old book with dated ideas that keep people from wholesome living in a new world.
Either we are non-religious and rational or religious and intolerant. There is no other way to think about God in the 21st century.
Jesus was a dirty word in the first century—synonymous with gluttony, drunkenness and questionable friendships with dubious people of no character who could not speak of God because they were not qualified by religious authorities.
It was understood that religious people should not make any place in their lives for a crucified criminal that turned their minds from the familiar traditions of trusted commands that ordered people from impure living in an evil world.
Either they stayed religious and righteous or turned to Jesus and became a cult. There was no other way to think about God in the 1st century.
Humility is a missing reality in the 21st century—replaced by hostility, ridicule and guarded relationships with different people whose worth is reduced to their ideas because the world is defined by ours.
We have never thought of God as being humble because our reflection on Him begins with the religious who have given us one rule after another to run our lives, or the non-religious who have written one book after another to ridicule His nature.
The birth of Christ was God’s way of challenging the gossip that religion spread about Him and undermining the caricatures that non-religion would create around Him.
He did this by entering into our shame.
No God comes out of Bethlehem. No kings are born in the country. No rabbi retreats into the night with drunkards. No crucified man can save us from Caesar.
Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. When God lived among us, He did not live in pomp and power but endured the ordinary, every day struggle with shame and revealed the unassuming power of vulnerability and humility.
God became a man to rescue us because we would have destroyed ourselves by trying to become gods. He became humble so that we do not become proud. He became vulnerable so that we can do the same without shame.
There is too much mystery in the world to reduce it to the material. There is too much humility in God to equate Him with the self-righteous. If God is anything like Jesus, the self-righteous are wrong and the world needs a new word for Him.
Jesus reveals that God has been among us to redeem us.
He is here and He is humble.
Image Credit: Brad Folkens