I’ve been talking about this stuff with a pastor friend of mine on and off for years. A pastor friend who has stuck his tongue in his cheek for years, as I’ve tried to explain my problem with this Christlikeness way of talking and writing and thinking about who we are.
A pastor friend who has politely chuckled as I’ve tried to help him understand the problem here. As I’ve tried to get him to see this fecal material floating in the punchbowl here.
But then the other day I decided I would set it out so that even a chuckle-headed pastor could understand. I said, “Look. There’s a difference between being and doing. Being means we are claiming to have a divine nature. A divine nature, as Jesus had and has a divine nature. The unique son of God nature.
“We appear to be claiming that if we don’t begin with a divine nature we can acquire one over time by working at it.
“We are claiming that we can actually be divine in the sense that Jesus was divine.”
“Well, that isn’t right,” he said, his chuckling subsiding. “That isn’t possible.”
“Right,” I said. “That isn’t possible.
“We certainly can do as Jesus asked us to do. Or try to. But we cannot be like Jesus in any meaningful sense.”
“Being and doing,” he said. “I get that. Everybody should be able to get that.”
“And this conflation of the two meanings is at the heart of much that has gone wrong with us. With us Christians. With our faith. Our faithfulness.
“We’re so focused on being like Jesus, we have little time or interest or patience with what Jesus asked us to do. We’re so taken with the idea that we’re divine or that we’re signed onto a program that will make us divine that we begin to want to insist we have the same intimate understanding of things and relation to the Father that Jesus had.
“And then of course it’s Katy bar the door. Look out everyone, the Christians are coming. The divine ones are coming.
“It just makes for the most embarrassing kind of evangelism. The most embarrassing sort of conversations with non-believers, particularly here in Western Culture.
“No wonder non-Christians hate us. If I weren’t a Christian, I’d hate us too,” I said.