It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Jesus?
Check out this latest guest blog by my friend and regular contributor, Sean Swaby. And if you're interested in sharing your story with the Grace is Messy community, email me! Let's talk!
I have issues with God. I will get right down to it. My issues are about how approachable he is a father. My own father was distant, rigid, cold and hard to connect to. At times, I have felt the same way towards God.
I get that I am seeing God through the lens of my own father's weaknesses, but my central question is how can you love someone who is perfect?
- Not like me.
- Not real, not open, not vulnerable.
- Unapproachable and untouchable.
Honestly, how I view God has kept me cynical and uninvolved in the church. When I do attend church, I often keep people at a distance. It's a perfect combination, an unapproachable God and an imperfect church. Why would you want to be a part of any of that? It's a mess just waiting to explode all over the place.
In a way, even Jesus gets thrown into the perfect-distance mix. We sing songs like "Jesus never fails..." yet we do all of the time. How can you relate to a God who never fails? He is so... unlike us.
Yet there is still something that draws me to God and to the church.
It's hard to put my finger on it. I think that our spirits long for something to connect to, no, someone to connect to. We naturally reach out because beauty is cold, untouchable, unreachable. Yet beauty attracts us and we want to reach out and touch it.
I live in Canada, about three hours from the mountains. It is takes a lot of effort to get the trailer ready and it costs a lot of gas to drive to the mountains for a weekend. But I go there as often as I can. Why am I drawn to a costly, harsh, sometimes cold, granite-hard location? Because it is so breath taking and beautiful. When you walk up a mountain, you have a vantage point that you cannot see on your own.
Jesus is my mountain. He gives me hope that my view of a harsh, unapproachable, cold, perfect God is real and can be approached. He gives me an example of God with skin on. Jesus gives you and me a vantage point beyond what we can see on our own.
Life can get to you sometimes. Being immersed in every day pains, stresses and problems can wear at you. Your edges begin to show and you feel tattered. I think the longing for God is because we know that deep within, we need a fresh view of our humanity to pull us forward.
So here is where I return to my question: How to you relate to someone who is perfect? And how does perfection give you hope and a fresh vision of your own humanity?
Honestly, it feels a little blasphemous, but I will say it. I cannot relate to Jesus as Lord. He is Lord, but that echos of the distant-perfect-image-of-God. How do you relate on a human level to the Lord of the Universe?
I think this is why we are so drawn to superhero stories. Take Superman. He is invulnerable yet bulletproof. He has few weaknesses, but his main weakness is that he loves humanity. His love for us makes him imperfect and approachable.
This is where Jesus as a man comes in for me. He was perfectly real. Vulnerable, skin-on, approachable and imperfect... yet mysteriously perfect at the same time. Just like me.
I think that Jesus represents my longing for God and God's longings for you and I.
In a way, (to me at least) Jesus is like Superman - yes he is God, invulnerable and perfect. Yet his love for humanity is his greatest weakness. His love for you and me makes him imperfect and approachable.
What I forget is that Jesus was a man. I get lost in the saved-the-world-from-hell story and I forget the other parts of his story.
- He was wounded and broken, just like me.
- He felt lonely and isolated, just like me.
- He was misunderstood and it pained him, just like me.
- He had unfulfilled dreams, just like me.
- He relied on broken people and they hurt him, just like me.
- He longed for relationships, for a legacy, just like me.
- He was compassionate and he had days where he needed compassion. Just like me.
Why is it that Jesus' humanity doesn't get much airtime on Sunday morning worship time?
I think that is why it's so hard for me to connect with most worship songs. I feel closer to God listening to U2 and Parramore than on most Sunday mornings. It's because our music is about our humanity. Most worship songs are about the perfection of God and his perfect love (aka, his perfect, unreachable love).
If you are like me, and you find God as Father hard to reach, maybe it's time that you are born again into the church of Jesus-as-your-Superman. He was perfect, yet his love for you made him somehow imperfect. His weakness, that is your strength. And he is approachable despite his strength and ability to fly to the heavens.
For me, that is a Jesus that I can love.
If you liked this article, you will also want to check out some of my other writings:
- Healing and the Spirituality of a Tattoo
- 6 Thoughts on Jesus, Healing and Yoga Mats
- Which Jesus do You Listen to?
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