“We have a diminished view of our humanity. Even the typical “Christian” view isn’t even based in the Bible. Part of the problem is that we have driven a false wedge between “divinity” and “humanity.” This is a curious division since Jesus was both. Nonetheless, this false wedge more or less goes something like this:
Divinity = Good
Humanity = Bad
Divinity = God
Humanity = Something less than God
Divinity = Perfect
Humanity = Flawed
Divinity = Supernatural
Humanity = Natural
But human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. In other words, the God of Jesus is a supremely human reality. This means that God is not less human than humans, God is actually more human than humans. Our humanity is a derivative of God. God’s being is the source of our being. Our humanity doesn’t drag God down; God invites us into a humanity beyond what we are capable of imagining. Religion dumbs down our humanity, while Jesus elevates it. The title Jesus was most fond of was “son of man,” (ben adam), which is translated “the human one.”
Jesus said, “God is a spirit.” Just as the spirit of a master artist, sculpturer and gardener comes to expression in his canvass, sculpture or garden, so God’s spirit comes to expression in the things God has made, especially human beings who were created in God’s likeness. In the history of the world up until the time of Jesus, this image of God existed only in potential. Jesus actualized the human potential.
In Jesus, God’s image and likeness found full expression. Everyone who came within the sphere of his words and actions encountered this image and likeness of God. The earliest Christians were not quite sure what to make of this, and understandably so; they had never encountered another human being like Jesus. However, they were unified in their testimony that Jesus was “the image of the invisible God”, “the express image of God’s person.”
The ancients (and many still today) thought of God as an earthy monarch seated on his throne with people coming into and out of his presence in a very self-shaming manner. They thought of humans relating to God as a vertical authority, of Master over servant, Ruler over subject, Strong over the weak. But if Jesus was really like God, we confront a totally different reality – a supremely human God.
The people who came within the sphere of Jesus’s influence were moved to believe in a God who was with them, in them and for them, to heal, forgive and inspire them to face life with new hope and courage. Scheming tax collectors, hardened Roman soldiers, marginalized prostitutes, outcast lepers, all were made to feel that God was their accepting, loving, compassionate and empathetic friend.
Supremely human means that God is not only the source of our humanity, but that God is more human than we are. God is more loving, compassionate, kind, caring, just or anything else we recognize as being human. God is more sensitive to our rights to be free and human than we could possibly imagine. There is no imposed authority, no encroachment of our individuality, no interfering with our rights to make decisions even if they be wrong ones. Won’t God be the first to respect his image and likeness in us?
Religion has devoted so much time and energy, trying to understand God’s “divinity.” But where it has really fallen short has been in understanding God’s humanity, which is the basis of our humanity. Religion wants to cut Jesus down the middle, finding a human side and a divine side, but Jesus spoke of the two being one in him and as him. Jesus said, “I AM the truth,” and later explained that knowing the truth would set us free. What is this “I AM”-truth? Is it not that who and what Jesus was, is who and what we are?”
– Jim Palmer, Notes From (over) The Edge