I get irritated with bubbly Christians… sad Christians, conservative and progressive Christians, those who are all about the heart, or the soul, or the mind, or the strength…contemplative, charismatic, and “beloved” Christians.
At times, every type bugs me, for something in me wants me to be king of my own kingdom, my kingdom of one person, only me.
When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples by the side of the sea, he told Peter, “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (Peter was crucified upside down in Rome in 65 AD).
At this, Peter turned and saw “The Beloved Disciple;” he saw John and asked, “What about this man?” Jesus responded, “What is that to you? Follow me.”
Peter and John were both fisherman in the same neighborhood; they were competitors. And Jesus made them to be brothers. It’s often the people we love the most who we are tempted the most to hate; with these people, we are tempted to measure ourselves, to compete.
So, Jesus asks Peter, “What is that—what is John with all his unique and individual differences—to you? A curse… or a blessing? Hell… or Heaven?
Perhaps we should ask, “What is John, what is a person, to God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?”
Solomon wrote, “…Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it; nothing can be taken from it. God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks what has been driven away” (Ecc. 3:14-15).
This has remarkable implications for every person… and every false person.
If a person is something God has done, they are eternal—nothing can be added to them, and nothing taken from them; God has done them that all would stand in awe before him; they are eternal. My ego constantly tries to add to me, take from me (and my neighbor), and tell me that I must be what I’ve never been; my ego is an illusion.
There is a “me” that God “does,” and a “me” that God does not do.
The me that I imagine I “do” must be my “ego,” the spawn of the devil, and the illusion in which I am trapped… And yet, this is also the emptiness in which the Glory of God and image of God is to be revealed.
A person is a Love story, already written, but waiting to be read by all.
To God the Father, a person is an eternal treasure being revealed in space and time.
To God the Son, a person is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
To Jesus, a person is his Bride, and his Bride is his Body.
“The mystery of Christ” is that even the Gentiles (“alienated from the life of God”) are “members of the same body” (Eph. 4:4,18).
If Peter is Christ’s Body, and John is Christ’s Body, then Peter and John have the same body.
To believe that we all are one body changes everything for anybody and everybody.
Every difference is no longer a curse, but the deepest blessing.
My neighbor is no longer a threat to me; my neighbor is me.
And I am not any less the individual and unique “me” that is me, but more.
A chicken leg is most a chicken leg, not when it’s severed and fried and sitting on your plate; a chicken leg is most a chicken leg when it’s attached to a living chicken. I learn who I am when I discover who we are—not a chicken, but the body of Christ.
On the tree in the garden, he delivered up his Spirit, the same Spirit that fell on the Church at Pentecost, as his people freely chose to share everything in common. A person is, and persons are, a temple at which we are called to worship God with sacrifice and offering. God is Love; Love is three persons and one substance; Love is a decision to bleed for your neighbor.
In the depth of the temple, in the inner sanctuary, behind the curtain, is the Spirit of God.
When a person comes to Christ (for Christ has come to that person), that curtain is ripped, and the Spirit begins to fill that temple from the inside out, like a fountain of living water.
The True Self fills the emptiness of the false self with infinite Mercy, which is the substance of God, which flows from the throne in the depths of that person to other persons, and binds all things together—“the plan for the fullness of time” (Eph. 1:10).
What is a person to God the Father? His eternal treasure.
What is a person to God the Son? Himself.
What is a person to God the Spirit? His own body wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger; his own self, rising from billions of tombs, and all coming together in ecstatic Joy.
So, “What is John to you?” asks Jesus. “A problem, an accusation, a threat, maybe… a curse?”
“What am I to you, Peter? What is Love to you, Peter? … Am I hell, or am I Heaven?”
God is three persons and one substance; God is Love.Heaven is many persons and one substance; Heaven is all creation filled with the substance of God, “the All in all (1Cor. 15:28, Eph. 1:23).”