Half Full or Half Empty?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 — Week of Proper 18

Harry Thacker Burleigh, Composer, 1949

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 983)

Psalm 45(morning) // 47, 48 (evening)

Job 29:1-20

Acts 14:1-18

John 10:31-42

Is the cup half full or is it half empty?

On the one hand, Jesus heals a man born blind. It is a wondrously good act testifying to the presence of God with him. On the other hand, he announces his oneness with God, an impossible and heretical claim.

Both sides can quote their scripture. Has there ever been a conflict between religious people when that wasn’t true. Jesus cites Psalm 82:6 — “Now I say to you, ‘You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High.'” Then he points to the works. Are then not good works, consistent with the works that God does? He reasserts that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” They aren’t convinced. But it’s enough that he is able to escape arrest.

What do you see? The half full or the half empty glass? The good works or the questionable theology? A human being who is one with God or a mere finite creature at a metaphysically infinite distance from God?

Jesus tends to fall on the half full side of these dilemmas. Later on in John’s gospel he will extend the astonishing talk about oneness with God. He will continue to assert his own union, but he will say to his friends that they share such a divine identity and intimacy as well. You remember the language — “I am in the Father, and you in me and I in you… The Spirit abides with you, and will be in you.” And his prayer to God, “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.”

Jesus’ claim of union with God includes us. We are one with God. We live in Christ in God. The Spirit abides in us. “You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High.”

Or, others will point out in scripture, we are sinners, unholy and separated from God. You remember the language. Miserable offenders, unworthy to pick up the crumbs that fall from thy table. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death.

For most people, it seems, it was easier to believe that Jesus was blaspheming than that he was speaking the truth about his oneness with God. Probably for most people, it is easier to believe that they are sinners than that they are divine.

How different might life be if we all reconsidered? What if it is true? “You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High.” Might make us feel a little different about ourselves. Might make us feel a little different about others. That glass may look a little fuller than it did.

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