It all begins with God — what we think about God shapes what we think about ourselves and those around us and our world. It begins with God. What is our “narrative” of God? What are the narratives that hinder our perception and life in God?
James Bryan Smith, in The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love With the God Jesus Knows (The Apprentice Series) , is guiding his readers into a wholesome narrative about God. And one of the wholesome narratives is that…
God is self-sacrificing.
Smith tells a story about his sister, who couldn’t quite comprehend why Christians are so tied into the cross. It seems almost child abuse to her and she wondered why God couldn’t just forgive humans out of grace.
The false narrative is that of karma: good deeds, good life; bad deeds, bad life.
Jesus’ narrative: God works his way to us. Smith’s approach is to imagine a conversation between himself and Athanasius who is the “doctor of incarnation.” Athanasius said the problem was human corruption and death. The divine dilemma is to be true to God’s nature and to God’s promise and still to forgive and re-create life. Jesus surrenders his life to our life and experiences our life and lives our life and dies our death in order to bring us out the other side in the new life of resurrection.
God, in Who God Is, is self-surrender within the Trinity and giving himself for — with, instead of, and for the benefit of — humans is the only way God can love. So, he entered into our condition in order to make us what God wanted us to be. What more could God have done, Smith asks, than to die for us?
For an exercise, Smith suggests reading the Gospel of John.