December 20, 1998:

just a few ramblings...(and updates, i guess)...

1. Business: I had to switch to a different video capture card (moved to DC30+, since I needed to do full-screen video), and now am using a combination of Premiere 5.1 and ULead Media Studio for the video work.

2. Business: I need some extra storage. If anyone has a 'spare' 20GB, UW Scsi harddrive, 7200rpm or better, that i could use for 6-9 months(!), let me know...

3. Business: I need a S-VHS vcr/recorder (NOT camera) to create the video-masters for my tapes. If you have a 'spare' one that i could use/have, please let me know.

4. Personal: I just posted my last large batch of books--I have run out of money for discretionary items.

5. Personal: Generally, things are going well. God is really blessing me in my relationships with my grown kids, with my church, and even though I am behind schedule on the business production, I sense His encouragement and facilitation (esp. in the learning  needed). My deepening relationship with my girlfriend from church is an amazing experience for me--I have never experienced such comfort, closeness, non-demanding acceptance, gentleness, humility, non-consumptive interactions before...it is difficult, given my sporadic experience in this area, to "get used to" this kind of consistent treatment from a human; I am more accustomed to "less genteel" and less consistently-calm behavior...my health is generally good, most problems seem to have been resolved...finances are getting tricky, with the growing start-up demands of the home-business.

Now, the real point of the letter:

Someone very, very close to me recently made a comment that started me thinking about the humanity of Christ...this person made a comment something like: "I seem to be able to visualize and relate to the fact that Jesus was God, but I cannot somehow believe in His real humanity."

This shows up in a number of areas of theology and praxis, of course, especially in the area of the reality of temptation in the life of Jesus. I sometimes get TQQ's about "was Jesus really tempted, or was He protected from the agony of it because He was divine?" or "can Jesus really know what I experience when I am tempted, or when I have sinned?"

Theologians early in the history of the Christian community formulated the understanding that His true humanity was essential to His suitability as a sacrifice for us, based on such passages as Romans 8.3 and Hebrews 2.14, but the same understanding is also used in scripture to support His solidarity with our experience:
 

Although I will have to write a longer piece on this (responding to some of the TQQ's that have been submitted), I want to make three quick observations:

1. About the "feeling temptation" issue, I have to cite a line from a bible commentary, on Hebrew 4.15:

This stunned me, because it made me realize that all of us who succumb to temptation, do so before it exerts its full force, or escalates its method, or varies its attack...If I withstood longer, perhaps, I would experience its escalating force in all its power. So far, only Christ has stood in the face of those forces throughout the entire range of their fury and approaches. It is even likely that the evil one would have tried everything in the book on Him, instead of the tiny subset needed to de-rail us! It makes perfect sense for me to believe, in light of this, that I will never know the extent, variety, duration, intensity, and subtlety of temptation that Christ did...Instead of Him not knowing the "pull" that I experience in temptation, it is far more believable that I will never know the "pull" that He experienced during His life on earth.
 

2. I have often thought about the temptation in Luke 4.5f:

Earlier in my life, I wondered why in the world the adversary would use such a stupid temptation on the Son of God, who had experienced the glory of heaven before the condescension of the Incarnation (cf. John 17.5). What possible appeal could rulership of this earth have to the God of the Universe?! But as I studied His messianic program, I understood more...

His earthly rulership, as son of David, was to bring the blessing of Abraham on the gentiles (cf. Gen 12.3, Gal 3.8ff), among other things. When He would fulfill all righteousness, and when Israel would anoint Him king (in righteousness--Dan 7-9), all the nations of the world would be subjugated to Him, and He would usher in a reign of universal peace (not just "absence of violence"!), prosperity, individual warmth, pervasive joy, and renewal for all humanity. His rulership was to be an expression of God's heart for people, and when we submitted to Him, He would carry out His program of healing our lives, our lands, and our hearts.

The temptation was to try to start this healing earlier...and to usher in the blessings on the earth 'ahead of schedule' and 'in advance of the Father'...

In other words, satan would relinquish his 'rulership' of the earth and Jesus could get on with the divine program of blessing, healing, renewing, happiness, peace, joy--if only Jesus would sin...In light of the heart of Jesus Christ for people and for the achievement of a sane, beautiful, and free-from-fear world, the pull to "get there instantly" must have been tremendous. All He had to do was one little compromise, one little aberration of character, one little act of anti-dependent-action, and, theoretically, thousands and thousands of years of humanity's bloody history might have been avoided...He could make His creatures whole, happy, and healthy so much more quickly...and with the heart of love that went to the Cross for this, this pull must have been awesome...
 

3. As I have brooded over the nature of humanity as community for the last year or so, I have become increasingly aware that "being authentically human" consists to a great extent  in "being authentically related to" (i.e., in experienced community with) persons. This group of "persons" includes self, family, cultural community, the human race as a whole, and God. To the extent that I am not authentically related to my "self", to that extent I suffer from therapy-requiring (and occasionally, chemical-requiring) problems. Disenfranchisement with family produces tremendous 'flattening' of human potential and growth, and community alienation and treachery has similar personal and sometimes civic, consequences, especially 'stunted growth' due to lack of community acceptance, support, encouragement, and teaching/nurture. Failure of commitment to humanity as a whole, can produce short-sightedness of perspective, and lack of compassion for others. Lack of vibrant relationship with God can often be seen in lack of transcendental renewal resources, lack of closure on guilt issues, blindness to personal "developmental needs" and failures due to lack of appreciation of the worth of fellow people.

If I am correct in this, then that individual who is most authentically related to God, to humanity, to the cultural community, to his/her family, to himself/herself would be the most authentically human person of all.. As I understand the life of Jesus of Nazareth, this would fit  Him to a "t". Being divine Himself would certainly qualify as an 'authentic' relationship with God(!). Going to the Cross for the reconciliation of the race, and acceptance of every human who approaches in open-hearted need  would classify as 'authentically related' (counting especially the fact of His essential solidarity with the race through the Incarnation--becoming human in His very life!). His commitment to His cultural community ('to the Jew first') and His acceptance of the outcasts of Israel would demonstrate His authenticity in this arena. He cared for His earthly mom at the Cross (cf. John 19.26f), and accepted as full disciples his family at Pentecost (Acts 1-2), in spite of their rejecting Him earlier in His ministry (cf. John 7.5 and Mark 3.21). And His life demonstrated a personal integrity, peace, confidence, compassion, and power, bespeaking His personal psychological integration.

On this understanding, then, Jesus Christ would be the most "human" of us all...

I remember a speaker some years back citing an alleged quote by Karl Barth in this arena. K.Barth supposedly said:

And, if we measure ourselves by meaningful, constructive, supportive, authentic relationships and interactions with other Persons/persons, we will see quickly that our humanity is perhaps only a pale shadow of His...
 

It's Christmas again, and we commemorate the "en-fleshment" and coming to earth of the Son of God. I remember an old college roommate, describing to me a neat Christmas card:
 

I hope this holiday season for you is filled with awareness of the warmth of His heart, as manifested in that priceless Gift...
 

Glenn Miller



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