I’m aware that my target audience includes people for whom the name “God” or “Jesus” may be a turn off. In fact, that’s basically the criteria for my target audience. I’d like to offer an apology to those people on behalf of all Christians who made those names ugly. For people who, in the name of Christianity, in the name of Jesus, in the name of God, did very unchristian things. I’d like to apologize on behalf of all the people who’ve made Jesus look bad.
The biggest paper of my master’s degree was a metaphysical vision I called “water theology.” In that paper, I offered a metaphor of a body of water – a water balloon, perhaps – breaking open and spilling. The goal is to fix the problem. The water was designed to be one body, but now it’s separated and running among the dirt. What do we do? How can we put the toothpaste back in the tube, if I may mix metaphors?
I suggested we need some kind of force that isn’t obvious, isn’t known to humankind. Some kind of “water magnet.” Some force that can suck it back together without the balloon membrane. In my paper, I call that force Jesus.
I make no secret that Jesus is the center of my life. But I’m sure I’m not winning him any friends by saying he better be the center of yours too.
How could he be if you haven’t met him, or, worse, if the only exposure you’ve had to him are people who call themselves Christians but don’t act like it? I’d like to introduce you to him. A more untainted view of him.
I believe God is the beginning of unity. What’s that mean? The God I’ve come to know is a God who really seems to only want one thing – our coming back together. To each other. To him. To the metaphorical water balloon. There is absolutely nothing about you or about me that he doesn’t love. Nothing that isn’t invited. Nothing unworthy. Simply the way he lived and died shows us that. He may not like everything we do. But he loves everything we are. So what does it mean to be invited in to that?
It means our call as humans is to see each other through those same eyes. We don’t have to like what each other does. But unity begins when we can look at each other and not see someone who’s in our way. Or someone who’s a threat or a competition. Or someone who just isn’t worth it. Our job is to see the best in someone even when they’re hiding it really well. It’s possible they are searching for it, too, and need our help to tap into it and begin living it.
If we lived in a world where mistakes were seen as moments in a person’s story instead of indicators of someone’s worth, perhaps we’d indeed be on our way back together. Perhaps the human family could begin to operate as a human body. Each individual cell doing its job, maintaining its own identity, but doing so in a relationship that creates a beautiful, whole, being.
When I say Jesus is the “water magnet” that can help us do that, what I mean to say is that his teaching and action do that. They are that by definition. He is a model par excellence of this kind of radical honesty, communal outlook, and restoration in brokenness. It’s why most of his teaching has to do with how to apologize and forgive. Bad Christians distort his message into being mainly about hell and punishment. That’s the worst kind of sin, if you ask me. To take the model of love and charity and turn him into a bloodthirsty monster. God takes no pleasure in our separation. He isn’t looming around waiting for us to trip so he can suck us into the pit of fire. It’s only our fear that has allowed us to distort his message so. Our fear that perhaps his message is too good to be true, that I, myself, with all my faults, am invited into this haven, this family, this body. I’ll surely find a way to mess it up. It’s a lie. Don’t listen.
I want to ask you to consider listening to the hum of reality happening deep inside yourself. Like those water droplets, you carry an energy force that attracts you to something even while your membrane keeps you separate. Can you sit for 15 minutes and let it speak to you? I believe this is where God speaks to us. This is where we hear that honest voice telling us the truth about ourselves and about others. This is where we tap into a life force magnetizing us back together. Often, Christians talk about “giving yourself to God.” To non-Christians, it may sound stupid. Like handing your autonomy, intelligence, and free will over to a force of chance and randomness. I’d like to suggest it’s not that. It’s actually finding your truest self. It’s allowing your most authentic, humming layer of energy to surface and interact with the outer membrane of your being. It integrates you. In doing so, you ask this magnetic force that I’m calling God, I’m calling Jesus, to direct your path, your flow, to the growing pool of awesomeness developing as more droplets join together.
Using this metaphor, I invite you to open yourself to God right now. He asks nothing of you except that you say yes. I don’t care what name you use. God. Jesus. Something else. I don’t even care if you use words. And neither does he. But do it. With your whole soul and your whole strength. A strength that simply lets go. Let him find you now.
To those not familiar with spirituality, I know my words may seem high, irrelevant, or touchy-feely – a little too out of touch with reality. I want to suggest there is nothing more real. And I want to suggest our world needs a little more touchy-feely. I want to win you over; God wants to win you over. Come in. The water’s fine.