The Humanity of God – Dr Marty Folsom

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It is easy to think of God as beyond the sphere of daily human life. But we must see God as deeply caring for our human existence. In his essay on the Humanity of God, Karl Barth unpacks why this is so important. Here are some thoughts on the value of seeing that God has absolutely embraced humanity, just as we are!

First of all, the God who is the Creator of the Universe has chosen to be human so that we know that the Otherness of God is met in the Person of Jesus who is God for us humans. God likes us well enough to meet us as His own. The distinction of God from us is not the separation of God away from us. The humanity of God in Jesus proclaims that God is completely for us and can be that way as the Holy God. Our sin does not separate us from the love of God. He has come to us.

Secondly, Jesus creates a theological culture that lives in the dynamic of God encountering humans and humans encountering God. God is not against human culture with all its colorful creativity. He comes to Jazz it up with improvisations of love to knock your socks off. He cultivates a culture of love. In that context there is a dialog of a shared history, a life of celebration, a context for life and death, the activities of love, and the value of creating a community that embodies what it means to be the friends. He is the one who has bound us to Himself as human partners in this life. We need not exit this world or run to the hills. We live cultivating life as He brings value and meaning to human life as His commitment. That is like an invitation to a new kind of party.

Thirdly, In Christ taking on our humanity, we can see that there is a possibility of aligning our attitudes with Jesus’ speaking and acting. In this we attune our lives to fulfil love, as well as expressing appropriate anger at that which violates love. We are supposed to be fully emotional beings, not just thinking beings. So to have our life of responsive motivation be lived within the context of the field of His emotional intuitions gives us room for creativity within the bounds of love and yet lived with freedom. Jesus is not so concerned about definitions and descriptions of life, He wants us to get out and play the game, not to win, but to have enjoyment of being alive.

Fourthly, because of who Jesus is, we are to remain essentially positive in respect to how we live with God and fellow humans. The Gospel is not a corral to bind is from danger and threat. It is God’s self-assignment to be with us and for us for the whole of this wild ride. At the end of the day, we ought to feel great gratitude for the way we are loved unconditionally, not because we are good, but because we are Beloved. God lives with an absolute affirmation of our humanity, with all its abstract forms of artistic living and the coping with our traumatic lives. The only clear correction in the gospel is correcting any idea that we are not unconditionally loved. This God creates the space for us to well in unfettered possibilities.

Finally, the humanity of God says that Jesus is the head of the church. That is not a tradition or denomination. It is the real gathering of people who love and serve. They will live as an extension of belonging to a group of imperfect people who identify with this lover of outcasts and vagabonds. People flock like moths to the light of hope when there is authentic love and expressions of affirmation that are embracing and healing. That is the visible dance of the humanity of God already seen in Jesus. These are events, not institutions. Only when the fears set in, because we might lose what we have, then caution, protection, and security reign and the rigor mortis sets in.

God loves humans being human. As Jean-Luc Marion said, “The Son took on the body of humanity only in order to play humanly the Trinitarian game of love …”

We must not think of the Trinity as above or out of this world, for God has staked out this plot of planet to pour out His lifeblood that we might know we are held and beloved. The humanity of God is His signature of covenant faithfulness.©