Moltmann Monday: The True (and Present) God

Happy Moltmann Monday! Today’s selection comes from Jesus Christ for Today’s World in his chapter on The Great Invitation:

This is the true God: the one who in Christ takes the way of suffering to the point of death on the cross, so as to reconcile this faithless and torn world to himself; the one who takes on himself death in profoundest forsakenness so as to comfort all the forsaken through his love; the one who becomes poor so as to make the poor rich. In Christ God himself comes to us and reconciles us with himself. And that is our true self…God loves us, and we are beloved.

If we live in Christ then we have this unique experience of God. God has arrived with us. He is so present, so close, that in him we live and move and have our being. If we live in Christ then we have this unique experience of the self: we have arrived at God. ¬†We are good, just and beautiful, like a newly made creature on the first day of creation…

When I look around, I can feel overwhelmed with the presence of god-wannabes and demagoguery and power-hungriness. I know two of those are words I just made up, but I think you get what I mean. This morning, I went biking around White Rock Lake in Dallas with my kids. I was actually using my daughter’s bike, which is far too small for me and also has a seat that angles backward, which means my back was hunched over like an egg while my knees were hovering way above the seat as I was pedaling. I did this for ten miles, which, let me tell you, was an exercise not only in pride and pain but of leg muscles that I do not think are supposed to be used while biking. It was awful and I was frankly in a bad mood. In the moments when I thought of something other than the awkwardness of what was happening in my body, I thought of the world as it is and pondered, none too deeply, “What a mess.” And then I had to laugh, because the world is feeling like a poorly fitted bike ride these days and it is painful and ridiculous to watch.

So I come home and I exhale and I try to stretch out my cramping legs and I think about God, and specifically about Jesus, who was never ill-fitted for his body and who rode straight on every path. This is the true God, the one who kept his humanity and his divinity so aligned, like two wheels of a smooth bicycle ride, moving toward all that is good and right and holy. He enters into suffering even to the point of death. And God have mercy, there is so much death around us these days. So much awful, horrible, inhumane death. He enters into forsakenness to comfort the forsaken with his love, which remains somehow miraculously intact amid the jeers and the taunts. And God have mercy, there is so much forsakenness all around. We are leaving each other abandoned, alone. Sometimes we leave each other only after taunting each other first.

And in this total hot mess, God himself comes to us in the person of Jesus, who reconciles us even when we are riding like total morons on too-small bikes in a world slowly going crazy.

Some days that is all we have. Today feels like one of those days. So I will try to remember today that God is so close, so present, so true, in a world of shadowed and ridiculous characters. It is in him we live and move and have our being. It is in him that we love, and are reconciled, and become reconciling people ourselves. It is in him that we are beloved, and good, and just, and beautiful. This is the true God. Forget about all the rest. Start here, and breathe.

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