Monday, August 14, 2017

Reading “A More Christlike God, by Bradley Jersak #4

JersakThis post completes our look at Part 2 of A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, by Bradley Jersak. Part 2 of the book describes The Cruciform God. Jersak’s point again is that God does not run the world through coercion, but through consent and participation. God wants real relationship with His creation. I am posting from my reading in New Testament theologies and devotionals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Kindle version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

In Chapter 8, The Cross as Divine Participation, Jersak shows how Jesus' consent leads to God's participation in the world. God does not overcome the "necessities" of the world He created by negating them, but by participating in them with us and overcoming them. He then invites us, all by grace, to participate with him in doing this. He not only provides the power for us to do this through His self-revealing love, but even gives us the ability to consent. God actively participates in this creation through his upholding and sustaining of it, through his willing human partners, the incarnation of Jesus (the ultimate participation), through the church, His "kingdom priests," and through humble, self-emptying prayer.

By grace God assumes, undergoes and overcomes necessity. He partners with us in and through Jesus, so that he can also save and heal us through Jesus. Christ takes all the afflictions of necessity on and up onto the Cross and, by grafting himself to us, exchanges our curse for his blessing, our death for his life. 142

The love of God and world of humanity meet and unite in the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. Again, our participation is mutual but not equal. He is the Gift-giver and we are the recipients. He is the Savior and we are the saved. He is the Lover—we, the beloved. 154 

Just as Christ unites (participates) with both God and humanity in order to be a living bridge for the love of God, so his kingdom of priests unite with Jesus (by faith) and with those in need (by compassion) to become channels of the gospel of grace. This ministry of mediation is entirely kenotic and cruciform in that it involves emptying ourselves of ego and willfulness, consenting to be filled with Christ’s own love. And then we emulate the cruciform God by pouring out that divine love into the world for the sake of others. 156

Chapter 9 is entitled God is Good & Sh** Happens An Anti-Theodicy of the Cross. Jersak calls this chapter an anti-theodicy (basically a theodicy explains how an all powerful and loving God allows suffering and calamity in the world) because he believes that all theodicies are overly rationalistic and end up reducing the God of the Bible to less than He is. We end up like Job's friends reasoning about what we do not understand. The biblical answer to this issue is the cross. God approaches this world in a cruciform way. He has voluntarily given up coercion and, in a fully relational way, participates with us as Creator in the "necessities" (disasters) of a world in which He can be fully relational and, in the crucifixion, receives all the evil and its effects that the sinful world can heap upon Him. This kind of "powerlessness" is really all-powerful because it takes evil, redeems it and makes it accomplish His purpose of producing image-bearers.  

On the Cross, we see that God is neither the triumphant intervener nor the passive non-mover. He has always suffered the sowing and reaping of our sin and violence, but nowhere more so than on the Cross...only a cruciform God can account for the human predicament and only he can resolve it. 165

Jesus is here with you now. He co-suffers with you here, even in your experience of his absence! His co-suffering love does not mean he’s in the same helpless state of suffering or despair that you are in. Co-suffering means he wants to graft your pain to the resources of his divine love. We can welcome his self-giving love to transform your pain and bring redemption, even in the dark night of absence and affliction. Let’s meet him at the Cross. 174-175

God neither controls the situation nor is he found sulking in the corner, passive and idle. Behold: he’s there on the Cross. And he takes up all the evil and suffering and sin and sorrow into himself. All the despair and selfishness that leads to suicide; all of the perversion and obsession that leads to sexual assault; all of the powerless and desperation that leads to terrorism; all the pride and power that leads to domination and slavery. Christ takes it all up into himself on the Cross. 177

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