God’s Self-Revelation

Jesus of Nazareth: Week 1

God’s Self-Revelation
Sunday, January 14, 2018

For what can be known about God is perfectly plain, since God has made it plain.  Through everything God has created, people can clearly see God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature. So you have no excuse for not knowing God. —Romans 1:20 [1]

For those who are willing to see, the divine self-revelation of creation as image and likeness is everywhere evident, long before Scriptures were written. God was not mute for 14 billion years. Even though Abraham didn’t have the Bible (either of the Testaments!), he and Sarah still knew God—which is true for all the Patriarchs and their families. They instead knew God by the relationship called faith, better translated as “trust in goodness.”

Faith is the other side of the coin of revelation. Faith is God’s self-exposure received and responded to trustfully. A genuine act of faith is always in response to a new disclosure. It is meant to be an ongoing dialogue of divine disclosure and human response—an ever deeper divine disclosure and an ever deeper human response—just like any human love affair. People who are incapable of vulnerability thus cannot get very far on the journey of faith. They usually substitute either religion itself or atheistic denial.

For Christians, this dialogue with and self-exposure of God is summed up and encapsulated in Jesus. While present throughout all creation from the beginning of time—as “Christ” (Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14)—Jesus makes the universal and cosmic message both personal and lovable and thus more easily healing.  

It is important to note that Jesus was not born fully mature: “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). He fully entered into the human journey. Many want to imagine that Jesus lying in the manger knew everything from the beginning (which would make his faith a mere caricature, and he would not be the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” as stated in Hebrews 12:2). At Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan, we witness Jesus’ dawning realization of who he is: God’s “beloved Son.” Throughout his life on earth, Jesus continued to discover his own ways of embodying God’s likeness through his ministry of teaching and healing, his nonviolent resistance to religious and political power, and his death on the cross. But even at the end we see Jesus doubting God’s presence, just as we all do at various times: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). I believe that prayer and plea was heartfelt and sincere.

Simply put, God reveals God’s self to us through what unfolds as our life, along with every visible thing around us. These ordinary revelations must be respected and deeply listened to—before we start reading Bibles, joining churches, and quoting dogmas. Life itself is the primary divine revelation.

References:
[1] See also Wisdom 13:1-9.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke: Spiritual Reflections (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1997), 18, 19-20, 21.

Image credit: The Taking of Christ (detail), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1602, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.
Jesus was a person radically centered in God, empowered by that relationship, and filled with God’s passion for the world—a passion that led to his execution and vindication. —Marcus Borg

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