Shattering the Illusion

I've read two books now by Chris E. W. Green, Associate Professor of Theology at Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, TN and Teaching Pastor at Sanctuary Church in Tulsa, OK. He writes with such clarity, inspiration and depth, I'd put anything he writes on my "must read" list. Reading his book Surprised By God has been particularly helpful while training a puppy for Canine Companions For Independence here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, a process that has caused me to rethink everything I thought I knew about training dogs.

In the book, Green explains that if we genuinely desire union with the unimaginable love of God, we must be prepared to have the illusions of our religious world shattered. God shatters these illusions "by showing us again and again the image of Christ the crucified one. By showing us the beauty of the one who is undesirable by all our standards. As we with unveiled faces behold the image--in the face of the stranger, in the face of the enemy, in the face of the neighbor--we begin to slowly be transformed from glory to glory into it's likeness."

Luke, one of the original twelve disciples, describes Jesus Christ here in the book of Acts, quoting from Psalm 118, as the stone rejected by the mason when building. The stone was simply not good enough by the standards of the religious world. As Dietrich Bonheoffer reminds us in his Christology lectures, "God comes among us as one without beauty, without desirability, making nonsense of every frame of reference, every standard of judgment, every order and scheme we have devised for ourselves as a means of giving our lives significance and stability."

Left to our own imagining, our god looks a lot like the wise and benevolent Odin, with Jesus playing the part of the powerful, virtuous and good looking Thor of Norse mythology and Marvel Comics. God loves us too much to let us settle for that.