One probably shouldn’t write a blog post when one is angry, especially on a religion blog. But I want to publish my blog post before the end of the day, and the deadline is coming up. The only reason I mention my anger is that it might have something to do with my fast. It’s not anger at the fast per se, which is going great and which will make me a better person, hopefully. But rather it’s that I’m having greater clarity of thought because of the fast, and I’m seeing things differently. And some of the things I’m seeing are making me angry. The fast isn’t all good, however. The fast is interfering with my ability to concentrate on math and physics. But it is helping me see the error of my ways in other areas of my life. Maybe I’ll talk about those during a future post.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus lately, about how he lived his life and what he must have felt in the days leading up to his death. He must have known that he was in danger. Given his considerable understanding of Jewish law and customs, he undoubtedly knew the great risk he was taking in challenging the system. Of course if Jesus was God, then he really had nothing to worry about. He’s God, and nothing can really hurt him. If the soldiers pierce his human heart, he simply laughs it off and ascends into heaven.
But this notion of God as man needs more consideration. Does it make sense? I’m sure greater minds than mine have pondered this question, but perhaps most of them were not atheists.
God as man.
On the face of it, it’s an absurd juxtaposition. God is all-powerful, omniscient, etc, etc. If God comes down to be among his creation, he can certainly take human form. But does he then lose his power and omniscience? I think not, not if he can still call himself God. Is there a logical problem here? So maybe there’s something else going on, some reason we should pay attention to the Jesus story.
God as man.
Could “God as man” be a metaphor for how we should behave in adversity? I believe that Jesus didn’t fear death because he believed so utterly and completely in his cause, and because he had resigned himself to the inevitable.
I’ve often wondered what I would do if, say, a gunman entered the Barnes and Noble Cafe, where I often have a chocolate chip cookie, and started shooting people. Would I run and hide for my own safety? Or would I help shepherd women and children out the emergency exit? Or would I perhaps confront the gunman in an effort to save others?
God as man.
When your life is threatened, that is precisely when you must protect what you value. Because a threat to one is a threat to all, either directly or indirectly. Is it your own life, or is it the sanctity of life in general that has value? If you protect yourself, one life, while others die around you, perhaps even because you abandoned them, how could you face yourself afterward?
We have an instinct for self-preservation, to be sure. But I believe that we also have an instinct for civilization-preservation which doesn’t get mentioned as often. We talk about heroes, and we engage in hero worship. But do we fully acknowledge the heroism of indirectly trying to save a civilization, for dying for what one believes may make the difference in the future of mankind?
I think that’s what Jesus did. Perhaps he wasn’t misguided or foolhardy. Perhaps he knew exactly what he was doing, and wanted to set an example of what each of us must be willing to do when the time comes in order to protect what we value.
That’s the essence of God-like behavior in a mortal man.