I've always been painfully struck by the idea that the incarnation happened - Jesus lived on earth for thirty years and no one noticed. Why did no one take note? It seems to me that a crucial part of the answer is that they didn't know what to look for. Their expectations were shaped by social and religious understandings, which left them spiritually blinded to the real presence of the very God they worshiped.
Let there be no question, we risk the same today. The ways we talk about, read of and pray to our God are shaped and molded by so many things that, when we get right down to it, are not of God. It strikes me that, within the church today, much of our outlook is a romanticized version of Jesus - of his personal and often private love for me and my love for him. Alan Hirsch wonders if the most dangerous misunderstanding is that of Jesus as "boyfriend" - that I am so in love with him that I want to give my all to him - wrap myself in his presence - sing only "Jesus Lover of My Soul". Such a relationship though is not an agape love but a romantic attraction. This romantic attraction might get us to the mission field but as soon as we have to smell the stink of another person it won't sustain us.
So what if we spent the next fourteen weeks in the Gospel tellings of God, trying to get Jesus right - trying to meet our God? What, if for a season, we sought to read the Gospels and each time Jesus said to do something, we put down the Bible and went out and did it? What difference might that make in our understanding of God, of ourselves, of others? I don't know but at least it's a start.
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