What’s the Going Exchange Rate for a Dying God?

There is this idea that Jesus’ death bought something: that he was a unique currency, only ever redeemable once.

There is a part of me that recently wanted to throw this idea away far away from me.  And in some ways, I had good reasons.  There are some questionable ethical things happening, if this is how it worked.  It seemed rather suspicious than American, Evangelical Christianity would become rather obsessed with a financial-economic view of what Jesus was doing.

Today, I am holding this idea outward, with an open hand.   Perhaps it will stay.  Perhaps not.  I see some language in the bible that suggests it.  I see some value at it.  I can be a bit fickle.  Perhaps I will be ready to throw it away, again, tomorrow.

But the thing that got me thinking about all this was a podcast I was listening to this morning.  Michael Gungor, one of my heroes, started talking about transactional relationships with God.  I assumed what he said next was going to relate to Jesus’ death.

But he went a whole different direction.  He was talking about the deals we make with God.   ‘God please do this for me.’  ‘God, if you do x, I will do y’, ‘God I need…’  Gungor goes on to suggest that the alternative foundation for connecting with God is embodied in Mother Theresa’s often-quoted description of her prayer life: she states that she listens to God listening to her.  (Forgive the vast oversimplification of Mother Theresa’s words; it is worth looking up.)

I am thinking that maybe there is a connection between seeing Jesus’ death as transactional and seeing our relationship with him as transactional.  On a broader level, I know that some of my own relationships with other people have been ones where we abided in a love for each other, like Mother Theresa.  Others have been built around mutual exchanges and need.

Most, of course, are somewhere between these two extremes.  But the older I get, the more sure I am: I would rather engage in loving than exchanging stuff.





Selection #2 From “I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy shirt”

“A relationship with Jesus is better than a religion with Jesus, but still, I don’t think Jesus was talking about us just having a relationship with him.
For instance, this one time, Jesus said, “Abide in me. and I in you.” … To abide in means to live within. Jesus says he wants me to live inside of him, and that he will live inside of me. That doesn’t sound like a relationship to me.” (33)
The author goes on to create this fascinating, and occasionally intentionally goofy comparison. He says that abiding is much more like a fetus in its mothers womb. He says that if we could interview the fetus, it might concede that it has a relationship with its mother, but that the connection is much deeper than mere relationship.
The above quote is from the book listed in the title of this posting. It’s a book we’re going to be reading together as a church. I found it an interesting statement.
What do you think? Should we long for MORE than a relationship with Jesus?