If I could choose a divine nature to take on for myself, I would definitely be like the Greek gods, enjoying festivals and power and authority and the comfort of lounging by clear pools while being served goblets of wine. Should adversaries arise, I’d just use my superpower to silence them. I am frequently tempted to use the secure position I’ve been given in God, by the work of Jesus, to serve myself and condescendingly silence my opposition. I clearly don’t understand His divine nature.
We had a surprising phone call last night, which initiated a series of confusing interactions regarding our youngest daughter and her participation in a local mother’s morning out program. The exact nature of the conflict shifted from conversation to conversation, but somewhere in the mix is the fact that she is HIV positive and one of the teachers is not comfortable with that.
I was met first with sadness, as tears unexpectedly poured out of me. My husband was immediately angry. Ultimately, we were both perplexed by the whole circumstance and the way it unfolded. Naturally, we’d like to reprimand them, hold them accountable and maybe even punch somebody in the face. But God invites us into something better.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4
As I heard Kevin Twitt say in a sermon, the Gospel moves us, even compels us, into perplexing relationships, not away from them as our flesh begs. My human nature wants merely justice. God is just and the One who justifies, by moving into the disorienting with the goal of re-orienting His creation to Himself. I want to win. Jesus wants to reconcile, restore and redeem.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Romans 8:20-22
My natural man wants to avoid and run from frustration at all costs. I don’t like to be frustrated, perplexed, or even disoriented. I don’t like conflict in most forms. But the God man willingly drinks from that cup not for some delusional sense of martyrdom, but with the ultimate goal of birthing new life. Nobody wants to experience the pain of childbirth for the excruciating pain itself. However, mothers for generations throughout all of history have suffered in such an undignified (and at times life threatening) manner because of the new life that emerges through it. So it is with God’s divine nature and His promises to restore all things. The person and work of Jesus, in whose life and nature we participate, compels us to share in His suffering that we may also share in the resurrection. The divine nature offers us something better than escape from trouble. It offers us transformation through it.
Tim Keller was quoted in that same sermon of Kevin Twitt’s, summarizing the scene of Jesus at the wedding making wine for the guests. Keller said, “Jesus was in the midst of great joy sipping from the cup of sorrow that He knew was coming so that we, in the midst of great sorrow, can sip from the cup of joy.” This is the nature we have been invited to participate in, one that willingly shares in the cup of sorrow to share generously the coming cup of joy.
As we move forward through this perplexing situation, we don’t go into it alone nor unnecessarily. Through this groaning, may He birth new life both in those ladies and in us.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Gal. 3:13-14