I Am Jesus?
Tim Minchin got into trouble with the same channel for trying to do that on the Jonathan Ross show at Christmas last year, when they censored his song, ‘I am Jesus.’2
You win some, you lose some.
“God became man so that man would become God.”
So said Athanasius of Alexandria contending for the heart of the gospel of Jesus against the cold deity of Arius.
God became man. We call it the incarnation. It’s the big news in the New Testament. Same God, but now he’s one of us, an Israelite, a human being.
Man becomes God. Sounds more difficult. Sounds more dodgy. It’s called divinisation, or deification.
Whether this is heresy or healthy depends on where your definition of God begins.
If God is some kind of divine stuff then man becoming God is decidedly troubling. Man is creature not creator. And so on.
But if the essence of what it means to be God is to be part of the relationships of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit then being part of God isn’t so odd. It’s not what you’re made of, it’s who you know.
Everything of who Jesus is became ours as he took on everything that was ours.
The Father has always loved the Son and the Spirit, the Son the Father and the Spirit, the Spirit the Father and the Son. Love from eternity past, love that gives and gives and overflowed to create.
The high point of the gospel is that we’re united with our husband Jesus. “The bridegroom of the church is transfixed with nails”3 and we become one with him. Just as man and wife become one flesh, so by faith we’re united to Christ.
And then in Revelation 21:2 the bride descends, and then becomes God’s son (21:7). The bride becomes a son with the son. Not an awkward extra at the wedding supper but altogether one of the family. Being God about is being in the family. Deification is about relationship.
Paul labours the grammatical point that there is only one seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) and then says we are Abraham’s seed. There’s only one, it’s Jesus and if we’re in him it’s us too.
As far as it matters for our future inheritance and our present relationship with the Father, we are Jesus, because of Jesus’ curse-bearing death which bought us the blessing of the Holy Spirit living in us, filling us up with the love with which the Father has always loved him.
Christians are Spirit-anointed adopted sons. Or, to use Ephesians language, I’m “in Christ”. I have union with Jesus. He died, rose and ascended, and so too I’m moved from being a son of wrath to being raised and seated in the heavenly realms.
The 15th Century Russian orthodox iconographer Rublev pictured The Old Testament trinity. He suggested that what we see when Abraham eats with the visitors in Genesis 18 is something like what it is to be Trinity. There are three around a table, with a cup of wine or blood, and their eyes are looking outwards, always inviting others to join them at the table.
Vladimir Lossky says “the ultimate end is union with God, or deification”4. Christian salvation isn’t getting heaven or avoiding hell, it’s being joined to Jesus. It’s about relationship. Come inside the life of God, just as Jesus does, with Jesus, carried into the meal on the breastplate of Jesus5, on the basis of his life, death and resurrection.
One with himself, I cannot die;
my soul is purchased by his blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Saviour and my God.6
God is God, and we’re invited.
1 Talent show Superstar finding a new Jesus. The show in which only the Lord can save the contestants, Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber. http://www.metro.co.uk/tv/905428-superstar-suffers-another-ratings-blow-as-audience-slumps-below-3m-mark
3 The Lenten Triodion, a traditional Good Friday prayer.
5 Exodus 28:29, the high priest carries the people in on his heart to the presence of God.
6 ‘Before the Throne of God Above’, Charitie Lees Bancroft