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Changing my mind about God



This advent season has me reflecting on some central questions of the Christian faith. Why did God choose to come to earth in human form? What is the significance of this for all of humanity? What does this mean for me right now? Why is this “good news”? I feel these questions circling daily in my conversations with God, looking for a resting place beyond an intellectual understanding, deep within my spirit. Richard Rohr writes about the incarnation, or God choosing to become as human, saying, “Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.“ I have old narratives for the Jesus story that I am continually reassessing. In college, I passed around small pamphlets to strangers on the street as part of a campus ministry that boiled Christianity down to four principles. It went something like this: 1) God loves me and created me to know him personally, 2) but I was sinful and therefore had to be separated from God, 3) Fortunately, God sent Jesus to bridge that separation, 4) However, I need to receive Jesus as my savior before I can fully know and experience God's love. Practically, this theology frequently got stuck on point #2, emphasizing on my sin and separation. I later had a pastor explain this as worm theology, as in, I was such a sinful worm of a human, that God needed a blood sacrifice from his perfect son as payment before he could even think about loving me again. By this narrative, we celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas because it started the 33-year clock that would eventually lead to the real event, Jesus dying on the cross and bridging our separation from God. God needed Jesus to change his mind about humanity. As the years progressed, I began to have deeper and truer personal experiences with a God who spoke with warmth and kindness into all corners of my life. The conversations I had with him daily felt something like a breath of crisp morning air while watching the steady, expanding glow of a sunrise over the horizon. At this time, I remember looking around during church on Sundays while everyone sang songs, which emphasized their sin first and foremost, with a somber joylessness that stood in stark contrast to the Jesus I was experiencing outside of that church building. I was shifting towards knowing God as one who moves towards me with grace and love rather than one who is trying to mitigate me as a constant problem and disappointment. As this understanding grew, I began to reframe my narratives about Jesus as a stunningly beautiful embodiment of God who chose to take sweeping steps towards humans by becoming human, living among us, experiencing all that we experience. This advent I’m left reflecting on the supreme act of love of a God who chose to be with us. I’m holding this mystery and allowing Jesus to continue changing my mind and heart so that I may know God in a deeper and truer way. -Melanie




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