Posted by: Dan | March 17, 2006

With Christ with the World

It isn't so much that Jesus laughed at the world, or wept at the world. He was celebrating with the new world that was beginning to be born, the world in which all that was good and lovely would triumph over evil and misery. He was sorrowing with the world the way it was, the world of violence and injustice and tragedy which he and the people he met knew well.

From the very beginning, two thousand years ago, the followers of Jesus have always maintained that he took the tears of the world and made them his own, carrying them all the way to his cruel and unjust death to carry out God's rescue operation; and that he took the joy of the world and brought it to new birth as he rose from the dead and thereby launched God's new creation.
~ N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Jesus was, and is, “God with us”. This is not a God who comes down while still maintaining a form of detachment. This is not a God so removed from us that he is incapable of sharing our joys and sorrows. No, this is God with us. This is God weeping. This is God laughing. This is God bleeding. This is God dying. And this is God overcoming death and dying, in order to bring about new life and provide us with the assurance that one day all wounds will be healed and all tears will be dried.

And we too, the people of God, should be “God with others”. We have been baptised into the death and resurrection of Christ and, in Christ and with the Spirit of the new age within us, we are elevated beyond our own joys and sorrows and now carry the joys and sorrows of those around us in a new way. We have not been saved from the world, we have been saved for the world. We share the joy of the kingdom, but we also carry the sorrows of those who suffer violence, injustice, and tragedy.

In this regard it is worth noting how our baptism is similar to the baptism of Christ. Theologians and biblical scholars have often gone to great lengths to distinguish between these baptisms. Certainly there are differences. Christ's baptism was part of his salvific incarnation by which he identified with sinners in order to save them. Our baptism is an act of identification with Christ, by which we proclaim that sin no longer has a hold on us. Christ was baptised to take on sin, we are baptised to be saved from sin. Yet this must be made clear: we are not saved from sin so that we can then be elevated beyond sin. We are saved from sin so that we can, like Christ, begin to enter into the sins of others and carry the burdens of others' sins in a redemptive manner. Thus, we are baptised in order to be in Christ, but, once in Christ, we also go on to be with the world as Christ was with the world. Knowing the joys and sorrows of Christ, we also laugh and cry with those around us. We suffer and die with them while simultaneously proclaiming that the kingdom of God is among us and revealing the new creation as it bursts forth in the present.

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