Thursday, July 10, 2014

"I'm only human..."

Part of the summer lectionary at Nativity has included an emphasis on 1 John.  An incredibly complex and sometimes hard to read (because it is condemning) epistle that is tied to the Johanine community that produced the Gospel of John that is so familiar on Palm Sunday and the weeks following Easter.

In 1 John, there is a lot of talk about what it means to be human.  

Does it mean to be a sinner?  To be in the dark and completely depraved?  To continually choose what is good for ourselves over and above what is good for the larger community?

Or does it mean to be a saint?  To live in the light?  To be forgiven of all sins?  To be able to choose what is good for all instead of what is good for one?

In my sermon from July 6th, I posited that it was actually both.  That we are, to quote Martin Luther, simul ustus et pecator, that is, that we are simmultaneously saint and sinner.  

I even have a tattoo to remind ourselves of this very fact.  

But, in a book that I had to read for my Theology class in the Spring of 2013 for Dan Bell, the author posited meant that to be truly human was to be completely saint.  That the reason Jesus was fully human was because he was fully in relationship with God.  And that by his incarnation, we understand what it means to be human.  

This means that human nature isn't greedy or selfish.  It would mean that we no longer get to use the excuse "I'm only human, when we make a mistake."  Because to be human means to have the capactity for good and altruism.  

It also means that there are no saints, in the sense that we have come to understand them.  Instead, they are just people who are living into their humanity - the humanity that is made possible through the Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

That means, they are, at their core, people like you and me.  People who were born into this world, but desired something better.  And instead of choking up their failings to "human nature," they realized that they had the capacity to do better.  

They had the capactiy to do good.

We have the capactiy to good.  

And we don't really have a good reason as to why we continue to make choices that are terrible for us.  We can't keep blaming it on "human nature" because in the Incarnation, we see that human nature is actually altruistic and desires to sacrifice itself.

Instead, we continue to make terrible choice after terrible choice.  We continue to blame our mistakes on something else.  We continue to give ourselves an out for not doing better.

But we can.  We are freed in baptism to become truly human. 

And when we are truly human, we also know what it means to abide with God (to use the Johanine community's favorite verb).