Well, I have been stuck in the snow since Sunday here in Atlanta. It is crazy that a city this large–almost 5 million– has only 10 or so snow plows. Once the snow froze on the roads, well… 4 days of 27 F highs and it is going nowhere. So, I picked up a novel from the stack that my wife had checked out from our library and began to read. The book is, “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. It is an excellent read about a Jewish Haggadah from the 15th century and its journey of survival through the Spanish Inquisition, the Italian Inquisition, the Holocaust and the war in Bosnia. It is a powerful story of humanity and the relationship between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
There are two great quotes that struck me: Here the central character a budding artist used to drawing plants, is asked to draw a person:
“It took me three days. I had stared at the old man, trying to see him as I had learned to see an unfamiliar plant, emptying my mind not just of all other plants I had painted before, but of all my assumptions about what a plant is—that it has a stem, that leaves come off at such and such and so an angle, that leaves, in fact, are green” (Brooks, 288).
This quote refers to the 15th century book:
“It was here (the book) to test us, to see if there were people who could see that what united us was more then what divided us. That to be a human being matters more than to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox” (Brooks, 361).
What strikes me about both of these quotes is how they cut quickly to how we often encounter the world and each other—we see each other through our assumptions. We think that we know how a person looks, how a song sounds, what we believe, how the world is, and secure in our assumptions, we miss the opportunities to look with “eyes to see” and open our eyes to the reality of the world around us. Forgetting that we know the world through our world view and cultural reality, we can miss the opportunity to see God redeeming, reconciling and healing all around us—continuing to create and make all things new. Our assuredness of the reality of life, can limit our ability to engage each other as God’s creation being made more fully human as we relate to each other and God in community.
I asked a group at a Bible study recently what the whole point of seeking God was anyway. We had a good discussion, but our conversation came down to our humanity. What is the point of spiritual formation—transformation in Christ? For a Christian it really has everything to do with becoming more fully human as we were created by God to be; to be in unencumbered relationship with others, creation, and God.
I am not sure about your reaction to this, but for me, it affects everything, every encounter, and every day. God in Jesus humanized humanity showing us life lived in dependency to God through the Holy Spirit while in community with others. We are shaped into intended humanness as we are dependent on God by the power of the Holy Spirit through Christ. Each day offers the opportunity to continue our journey of transformation as individuals and as God’s creation until the time when all is fulfilled in Christ. Humanity is the point, and humanity is not fully human outside of relationship with God and others.