Jesus the Ordinary

At the Uniting Church's Trapeza comment site a talented young minister wrote a piece about Jesus being "not just ordinary."

The article began:

At the heart of Christian faith is the belief that Jesus is not just your ordinary guy. It is not just that Christians believe that Jesus is a good teacher, or prophet. Instead, Christian belief is that in Jesus there is something more going on. For Christians, it is not just that Jesus reaches some higher level of enlightenment because of his closeness to the Divine.

My response to her reflections was as follows:

Your writing is as always evocative. And so in me it has evoked the following which is not critique or criticism but another lens through which to view your opening remarks.

I wonder whether, if the mystery of Jesus' divinity is brought to us in terms of "not just your ordinary guy" and "something more going on" then we risk defining and hence losing the mystery.

From the biblical Jesus arise statements like "many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first." Such statements could be just liberation politics: "Root out the first so that the last can take their place." Yet such an interpretation would create an endless cycle of "first and last" that hardly seems akin to God's wholeness. So there is also a resonance with a different interpretation - a parody on words such as "first and last". A parody that proclaims, "First and last. Last and first. We'll never really find God's realm with language of ‘first and last,' language of the false-self that puts us at the centre of the universe and allows us to make judgements we are not qualified to make. So make your judgements of first and last if you want to because in the end that is the language of the false-self and truth sits in a deeper place!"

And if this understanding has any credence it sets up for us a dilemma. For how can one who reveals God's realm to be beyond the language of "first, last, better than, more than" at the same time be identified as "not just" and "something more?" And in such a dilemma is great paradox. Could Jesus be "not just your ordinary guy" because he is such an ordinary guy? Could there be "something more going on" precisely because there is nothing more going on? By this of course we mean he escapes the definitions of the false-self. Jesus "is" - nothing more or less is necessary.

In this understanding faith is not "belief" about Jesus level of capability or characteristic. I don't have to believe that Jesus is more than anything nor claim to understand how he became "more" (just I can never fully understand why I am as I am). Faith, in this understanding, is the possibility - the hope - that in practicing the Jesus way (the way of being deeply "who we are" without reference to "not just" or "more than" ) we mysteriously experience Christ. And this is not Christ as a false-self title - not Sir Jesus or Lord Jesus or King Jesus - but Christ as "an-oint-ment" - the metaphorical "oiled body" which rather than stopping the flow of God, allows the spirit of humble God to "slide through" transforming me and the world around me in the process.

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