God Is Unreasonable or The Outsider God.
“… the world You (God) had made, made You an outcast.” -Dylan
I have this growing sense that if I find that the actions and even the words of Jesus to be rational, I have diminished or destroyed the power of the story in my mind and experience. This is not to say that Jesus was not a brilliant or reasonable person, because He surely carried Himself on a level of understanding that was there whether we see it as a religious preoccupation or not, there was something deeply meaningful at work. The question then remains: If Jesus were to walk into our churches, would we recognize Him?
Here is what I mean: His reasonableness was unrecognizable to the culture of His day, and dare I say that it is largely unrecognizable to the culture of our day, although we desire it from day one of our existence, and surely after our first experience of His presence. If Jesus were to walk into our churches, would we recognize Him or would we marginalize Him?
Freedom, which is coming from within the human experience, is not there unless you desire it forever, not merely momentarily. If I think of Jesus as unreasonable and I nearly scratch my head at some of the things He participates in, chiefly the cross, then I may find that I am a breathe away from experiencing the truly divine.
My wife and I recently met with a couple who were looking to live an more fulfilling life in Jesus. After a few minutes of conversation, my lovely bride and I jumped right into the heart of the matter:
“What do you think about Jesus?”
Immediately our conversation took off like a 747 on the runway, making nervous first-flyers check their reaction by those falling asleep in the seats next to them. It was like lightning, it was like fire, it was like a rush, and something miraculous happened: a fresh vision of Jesus seemed to come into frame. No longer were there questions of who was in the Kingdom and whether or not you could stop your quiet times long enough for God to finally subject their souls to eternal damnation.
Now the Jesus of the Scriptures took on another dimension than the standard white paste we had written Him in on in a previous century. Jesus wanted more than altar calls, sin-awareness and the eschatology of Nicholas Cage. We were feeling the rumble of the wheels hitting the pavement at a speed of 500 mph, but instead of bailing in the midst of fear, we held on to the person next to us and allowed our souls to take flight. You see, we saw that many people fall asleep before the plane even leaves the runway. With the gift of human flight worn off, the excitement of the lift was nowhere to be found and those who would find it unusual or rare were then to be seen as stupid and childish. Not so with this couple! We rejoiced.
When I qualify a story before I am able to land the plane on the runway, what I have done is removed the power of the story itself to perplex, disrupt, inspire and ultimately transform the heart of the willing seeker. This couple wanted answers to their question, but answers would do them nothing if they couldn’t access the wonder of a fresh awakening to the greatest story ever told.
As a young child, the story of Abraham and Isaac was told with the frequency of the season. Before I ever picked up a Bible I could tell you what happened, and the explanation went a little something like this: “Hey guys, God had developed this relationship with Abraham over the course of many years, and even promised Abe a son to be born his barren wife. Whenever that son had been alive for a number of years, God then asked Abe to sacrifice Isaac on an altar. Now, don’t worry, because God wasn’t going to actually let Abe kill his only son. Seriously, God is way better than that. Now to tell you the rest of the story…”
Would it surprise the reader to find out that the point was always the ram that was in the bush and its relation to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross? Before the story could have any tension or a moment of pay off, the rise in confusion was prevented by the teachers sudden interjection into the story that God wasn’t going to actually let Abe do the deed.
What this interjection did was remove the struggle within the heart of Abraham as we joined him in the tension of whether or not this kind of God would require this type of lifestyle from Abraham, and if this is how this God operates, what makes Him any different from Moloch, or any of the fertility God’s down the sand dune? We must feel what Abraham is feeling: the tension, the horror, the understanding by which the gods have always required the sacrifice of our firstborn sons, or the very potential for disillusionment with the God who has built a level of trust that no other man has seemed to posses in previous generations.
How many times have we been told the stories of Jesus only to find that the “moral” of the story was that Jesus was indeed, who we already know Him to be, God!?
The same is in our lives.
What possesses us to seek to avoid suffering or the struggle in hearing the voice of God?
Do we still think God to be reasonable, or do we find Him to be something completely different: kind and ferociously wild. If He were anything, He surely wouldn’t be the domesticated super Zeus we have made him to be? If God were reasonable He might have given up on the human race a long time ago. He might have given up on me a long time ago.
He is a God who looks like a wild man. In other words, a God who looks like Jesus.