Mystic Mondays July 25, 2016
It was twenty years ago now that this event took place. It happened so quickly and of such small consequence that it evaporated almost as quickly as it appeared. I was attending an afternoon lecture at a presbytery meeting in California led by a rather popular and sometimes controversial professor in the Bay Area. His topic was on Christology which is just a fancy word for the study of the essential nature of Jesus. Was he human or divine? Half human, half divine? Fully human, fully divine?
Somewhere in there the professor was toying with the eyebrow-raising concept of a person making themselves equal with God. He wanted to impress on his eager listeners how shocking and heretical it would have been for Jesus to put himself on the same plane as God. You know the God I am talking about–that being who created all that is, the author of Life, the beginning and end. Indeed, Jesus was making a heady claim!
Without thinking I immediately shot my hand up and blurted out, “Well, that depends on whether a person is thinking in vertical terms or horizontal terms.” I can be kind of a nerd at times. The professor paused for moment, looked my way and then gave a little wink and smile that clearly told me, “Hang on, Brian. Don’t spoil this for me. I need to walk the rest of the group through this.”
I don’t know where those words came from that day except that it was exceedingly clear to me that making oneself equal with God was only a problem if you thought of all Creation as a sort of pyramid–algae and mosquitoes somewhere close to the bottom, human beings on a rung somewhere above carp but below Trump (who has a very good brain), and God residing at the very top. But what if God wasn’t at the top of a spiritual hierarchy, but rather was the DNA strand, the glue, the red ooze that binds all creation together?
The professor ended his lecture saying, “What it comes down to is that we are all chips off the old divine block.” He was making his point and mine as well–that God is not somehow vertically above creation, but the very DNA of creation. He was saying that God is in us and we are in God. “Like father, like son,” was his point except that he was referring not only to Jesus, but to all the sons and daughters of God.
I have been practicing yoga for about eight years now and the customary ritual at the end of every group class is to fold our hands, bow toward the teacher and say, “Namaste.” I have been surprised at how much this word has permeated our every day conversations. While I hear God Bless You ten times as much as I hear Namaste, it is not unusual for a congregant to occasionally whisper Namaste following a particularly meaningful sermon. I’ll occasionally hear it in a conversations around me, especially in stores that sell organic, natural food.
But I have really come to appreciate the greeting of Namaste. It fits my whole thesis that equality with God is not only NOT a heresy, but part of understanding of our essential nature. Namaste is used as a casual greeting in Hindu countries, but there is nothing casual about its meaning. The most spiritual translation is “The divine (or life force) in me recognizes the divine (or life force) in you.”
Which gets me back to Jesus and his statements about equality with God. Maybe Jesus was trying to teach us this when he said that “I and the Father are one.” Maybe Jesus was trying to level the playing field and bring God down from His vertical throne to live in a horizontal relationship with us. Maybe we got wrong when Jesus claimed equality with God. Maybe he was trying to bring God down to earth and instead we insisted on raising Jesus up to heaven.
Namaste and God bless…