Jesus reveals to us God, but also reveals to us Humanity.
There you go. If you get that sentence, then you get the rest of what I am about to say. Feel free to stop reading, or, feel free to dive in and get ready to think about the Incarnation from a profoundly different angle.
For a while now, perhaps a year or so, I have been thinking on the Chalcedonian Creed (451AD). The Creed, like much of the other ones, are not very well known. Well, at least in Protestant circles. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox recognize the helpfulness of these formulas of faith that point to mystery. Each of the Creeds offered in their time and day a unique emphasis to a part of the Christian faith.
In specifics, the Chalcedonian Creed was primarily concerned with the two natures of Jesus, the Human and the Divine. It sought to put to words how the two natures were present in the person of Jesus at all times. Since the Incarnation there have been conversations, disagreements and arguments over whether or not one nature was more “in use” than another in the life of Jesus. To help settle this question there is one line that is perhaps the most important when it comes to the Creed…
“…without confusion or division, seperation or change.”
The two natures of Jesus were always present. They were never confused or divided, separated or changed from one into the other. I believe that we are still working out the implications of that line of the Creed, and, to a certain extent, learning how that same line can be applied to other fields of Christian theology and spirituality.
Classical Christian orthodoxy says that Jesus reveals to us what God is like by means of Him showing us what is Divine. We can also say the inverse: Jesus reveals to us what Humanity is like by means of Him showing us what is Human. There is a double revelation in Jesus, we see Divinity and at the same time see Humanity. We see what the true God is like and at the same time see what true Humanity is like.
I think that at times we emphasize the revelation of God to the exclusion of seeing that Humanity is also being revealed. What Jesus did is what we are capable of. Jesus Himself said that we will do things more incredible than Him (John 14:12). On the same level, it may be helpful to stop despairing in humanity. Yes, the Cross is a Divine event but if we are to take the Chalcedonian Creed seriously the Cross is also a Human event. It is a both/and event, not an either/or. The crucifixion of Jesus is at the same moment a feat of God and a feat of Man. Our pulpits often fail to recognize the Cross as an act of faithful Human achievement.
In all of Jesus’ actions, in every moment of His life, in every instance of will, He was Divine and Human without “confusion or division, separation or change.”
If you ever asked what authentic Divinity is like look at the life of Jesus and, in particular, the Cross. If you have ever asked what authentic Humanity is like look at the life of Jesus and, in particular, look at the Cross. Authentic Divinity is humble, forgiving, loving and merciful, just as authentic Humanity is humble, forgiving, loving and merciful.
There are days when I wonder whether or not the Christian revolution has truly happened, and whether or not we are still subscribing to pagan views of God and ourselves. I even just shared this thought last night in a church setting. In response to this query, the only orthodox answer is to look yet again back to Jesus, the Incarnate Self-Revelation of God and to leave behind the either/or mode of thinking and take up a more Chalcedonian approach.
In an earlier post on St. Francis I shared that our brains tend to think in either/or, win/lose dualities. But the Gospel is always one that challenges us to think better and deeper, and learn to think in terms of both/and as well as win/win.
Perhaps all of this is strange to you. Perhaps this is something that challenges you. However, let it be known, that until we learn to see Jesus as fully Human and Divine, then we will never learn to live at peace within ourselves. Thanks to the Incarnation, we are able to say that the sacred dwells in the mundane, that we are children of God while being children of men and women. We are, “without confusion or division, separation or change”, holy and Human.