Jesus Christ is the model for integrating divinity and humanity. This IS the challenge we all face. Because, contrary to how many Christians have been raised to believe, we are both human and divine. All of us. That means, yes, you and me.
I know how hard it is to accept this, since most of us were raised as I was to believe that we’re mere humans and, even that notion, carried with it a conditioning that something was “wrong” with that notion. To be human was to be wrong…to be sinful…to be loathed and loathing…to be human was something to overcome…it meant that we were in grave need and, as a consequence, completely helpless and, left to ourselves, we were condemned to final judgment and hell itself was our inevitable destiny.
But, thank God, Superman himself, Jesus, showed up just in the nick of time. It does not occur to many westerners, does it, that the reason why movies like Superman, Batman, and other “super-heroes” are so popular is because, our notions of redemption, the “substitutionary atonement” kind the church has perpetrated for the past two hundred years, is completely inadequate? Even Jesus, the SuperSavior, hasn’t been enough for us. So, we unconsciously keep looking for more redeemers through the mythic characters on the movie screen.
What many of us were not taught is that we are divine, too. And, I know just how hard it is to even say this, much less accept the full import of its meaning. Divinity was reserved for Jesus. To think that we share in the same nature as that of Jesus himself is unthinkable to most Christians. In fact, this is precisely how most of Jesus’ radical teachings can be so easily dismissed, as they are by most Christians. For example, you’ll hear Christians say, “Oh yes Jesus said ‘Love your enemies’ but that’s easy for him…he’s god. The rest of us have intolerable people we have to live with.”
Really? Do you suppose that lets you off the hook?
You are badly mistaken my friend.
Why would Jesus have said, “Greater things than I have done you will do?” Do not allow your conditioned, but inadequate, thoughts of Jesus difference from you dismiss his teachings as hyperbole. Or, as something you are not expected to live by because, mere human mortal you are, you could not possibly be expected to be like Jesus.
This IS dualism.
Dualistic thinking is the dividing up of everything – humanity and divinity, “us” and “them,” those who are right and those who are wrong, the righteous ones from the enemy or enemies…it is the inability to live in the tension of contradiction…even conflict. It is the inability to be comfortable with paradox and, as a consequence, dualistic thinking seeks to reduce everything to an “either/or” proposition, even the humanity and divinity of Jesus…even your own humanity and divinity.
Let this rudimentary thinking leave you, my friends. In the words of Father Richard Rohr, you are not “mere humans trying desperately to become ‘spiritual.’…”The Christian revelation was precisely that you are already spiritual (‘in God’), and your difficult but necessary task is to learn how to become human. Jesus came to model the full integration for us (see 1 Cor. 15:47-49) and, in effect, told us that Divinity looked just like him–while he looked ordinarily human to everybody!”…”It is in our humanity that we are still so wounded, so needy, so unloving, so self-hating, and so in need of enlightenment” (p. 69). (from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See).
Let go of dualistic thinking. Embrace instead the mystery of all mysteries. We are, just as Jesus said, “his brothers and sisters” (Matt. 12:46-50) and that means that the same nature in him – human and divine – is the same nature that is in you. As the French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin put it – and, yes, I’ve taken liberty to add to his words my own commentary to his comments: “You are not a mere human being, sinful, depraved, and, because of your sinfulness, so repulsive to God that He had to pistol whip his Son to death…He had to make someone suffer and die to redeem himself, first, and his own twisted and dualistic thinking – holiness versus unholiness…that is, God had to overcome His perverted, vengeful mind and heart and uncontrollable wrath in order to be able to redeem you, so you could finally be spiritual, and even perhaps one day divine, too. Or, at least, in the Presence of the Divine.”
“No, my friends, you are spiritual already…or, dare I say it…yes, I say it, and it takes no daring whatsoever for the truth needs no defense…YOU ARE DIVINE ALREADY. What else could the “image of God” be in you?
If you will embrace this Christian truth, and then, give your full life attention to allowing this God in you to transform your humanity into true humanness…to make you, as Jesus said, into little children once again (Matt. 19:14) but, not childish thinking people – that’s not what he meant – but, childlike in humanity – children know NO malice, hatred, prejudice, division, separation, us and them, right and wrong, no dualism in them…they learn all that stuff from us, their parents and caregivers and they learn it in church, unfortunately, too…this is what Jesus meant about becoming as little children…and, if you’ll allow yourself to move beyond your adult ways of thinking and move beyond the incorrect teaching you’ve received and beliefs and traditions that are so contrary to Jesus and become, once again, as a little child, just like you once were, then redemption will come…transformation in you WILL occur – naturally and through no effort whatsoever.
And, isn’t this what needs redeeming in you and me? Isn’t it redemption from dualistic thinking – this inhumane way of thnking and so living that carves up the world into “us” and “them”? – the “saved” Christians verses the “lost” everyone else, or Americans versus the Communists, the Democrats versus Republicans, the “straights” versus the “gays,” the fundamentalists versus liberals and all the doctrinal differences and the nonsense that IS the denominational madness within Christianity? Did you know there are now 30,000 Christian denominations in America alone? And, do you know what distinguishes each of them?: “Each one believes it is a little more ‘right’ than the 29,999 others.”
DUALISM. Isn’t it this dividing up of the world into the “saved” versus the “lost” – the Christians from Muslims from the Jews from the Buddhists from the Hindus from the Atheists and on and on and on the madness goes – isn’t this what we need salvation for?
Salvation, my friend, is not about avoiding some imaginary future place of punishment. We are saved to live as the divine humans we are, living divinely and humanely – not for THEN but for NOW..today? It is not the future that needs transforming. It is today. It isn’t an imaginary future hell from which we need saving. It is from the very real hell our dualistic thinking has created in this world.
Make it your spiritual practice, therefore, my friends, to celebrate both your humanity and your divinity. Live from this place of oneness. You, too, are God’s in human flesh. YOU ARE the new INCARNATION of God. You are the new generation of Jesus Christ’s brothers and sisters here to live as humanly and as divinely as possible.