We need to look at Jesus until we can see the world with his eyes. In Jesus Christ, God’s own broad, deep, and all-inclusive worldview is made available to us.
Too often, we have substituted the messenger for the message. As a result, we spent a great deal of time worshiping the messenger and trying to get other people to do the same. Too often this obsession became a pious substitute for actually following what Jesus taught—he did ask us numerous times to follow him (for example, Matthew 4:19; Mark 10:21; John 1:43), and never once to worship him.
If you pay attention to the text, you’ll see that the Apostle John offers a very evolutionary notion of the Christ message. Note the active verb that is used here: “The true light that enlightens every person was coming (erxomenon) into the world” (John 1:9). In other words, we’re talking not about a one-time Big Bang in nature or a one-time Incarnation in Jesus, but an ongoing, progressive movement continuing in the ever-unfolding creation. Incarnation did not just happen two thousand years ago. It has been working throughout the entire arc of time and will continue. This is expressed in the common phrase the “Second Coming of Christ.” Unfortunately, this was often heard as a threat (“Wait till your Dad gets home!”). It could more accurately be spoken of as the “Forever Coming of Christ,” the ongoing promise of eternal resurrection and the evolution of consciousness into the mind of Christ.
Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their fullness. The precise and intended effect of such a light is to see Christ everywhere else. In fact, that is my only definition of a true Christian. A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will
- never fail you,
- always demand more of you, and
- give you no reasons to
- exclude, or
- reject anyone.
The point of the Christian life is not to distinguish oneself from the ungodly, but to stand in radical solidarity with everyone and everything else. This is the intended effect of the Incarnation—symbolized by the cross, God’s great act of solidarity instead of judgment. Without a doubt, Jesus perfectly exemplified this seeing and thus passed it on to the rest of history. This is how we are to imitate Jesus, the good Jewish man who saw and called forth the divine in Gentiles like the Syro-Phoenician woman and the Roman centurions; in Jewish tax collectors who collaborated with the Empire; in zealots who opposed it; in sinners of all stripes; in eunuchs, astrologers, and all those “outside the law.” Jesus had no trouble whatsoever with otherness. In fact, these “lost sheep” found out they were not lost to him at all and tended to become his best followers.