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My son is a toddler, as Jesus was once a toddler. He is on the cusp of being a little boy, just as Jesus once was at the cusp of being a little boy. Each time I am with my son, I am aware he makes me come into an encounter with the holy, into contact with Jesus and the divine. We, my son and me, race, me walking and him riding his Big Wheel, using his feet against the ground as he has yet to grow large enough to pedal. He pronounces us both winners and he is right. Each time I look into the eyes of my wife, I know Jesus looked into the eyes of people. He looked with deep love that I can only imagine. The act forged holy by his gaze. I live in a deep sense of being alive or abiding in Jesus, even as I forget.

Recently, in another post, I was asked what are my practices were in encounter God. I pray, listen to music and go to worship Sunday, and I also thought of how I try (and fail most of the time) to remember a number of questions within my daily life.

To live open to the spirit is to be open to wonder. The practice of wonder forms the backbone of prayer in a number of ways: wonder in who Jesus is, Who is Jesus? Asking that as a doctrinal question will give truth and some pat answers: son of God, God incarnate, fully God and fully man. All of which are true for my faith. The doctrines can be more than answers. They are launching pads of wonder. What does being the son of God mean? What does being fully God and fully man mean? If God was fully man does that mean that activities that are fully human, like eating, running, playing, have been made holy by God?  For where God goes, the ground becomes holy. Jesus eat, ran, played and was with his friends and followers.

The story needs to be told and told and told in wonder. God became man, lived among us, died horribly on a cross and rose to be with us again. I respond in wonder to this story. Who is Jesus is not a multiple choice question, but a lifelong essay question. One answered by our constant awareness of Jesus in our midst. He is with us to the end of the age. We answer it with Jesus being with us and we being with Jesus. When my son rides his tricycle, I ask about the nature of Jesus , did he play as my son does? When I hold my wife’s hand I ask who is Jesus. To be a man is to touch of the divine, not be the divine, but be with the divine, for I am not God. These moments last eternal as they seem just fleeting. Who is Jesus? Asking the question within my encounters with others transforms these encounters into the potential of love appearing. When we ask Jesus in when he was there and he answers, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

I read this and think of my wife, my son, my friends, the strangers on the bus, my co-workers, and all of the people I encounter in my daily existence.

17 Comments

  1. Ernesto Tinajero

    Ryan,
    thank you for you comment. and question.

    You are free to respond to the story of Jesus in any way you see fit.

    I encounter God in my daily life: in my play with my son, prayer and reading the Bible. The Trinity is real for me and my experience and my faith. The story of Jesus is real for me and I make sense of my life through following Jesus.

    You can think I am full of it. Or deluded. Or mistaken. Or have been infected by a destructive meme. That is your right.

  2. I can appreciate that it is real to you, though I don’t understand your sense of “real”. But you didn’t answer my question. I know I am free to respond how I like, but I want to know if you think it is at least as valid to respond with skepticism? Notice that this does not necessarily correspond to “how I like”. It would be wonderful if Jesus were real, but to me, it doesn’t seem real at all and quite far fetched to boot.

  3. Ernesto Tinajero

    Ryan,

    To answer you, I have answered the story of Jesus with skepticism before when I was younger and thought that being an intellectual meant skepticism. Without getting to much in my history, but to much water has passed under the bridge for me to reject Jesus.

    Any response is valid, for like emotions, a response is a response. Are wanting to evangelism me to your way of thinking?

    The real part is when I say that I have an experience of Jesus when I pray, or have an epiphany, I believe something is really going in my brain. When I have an I-thou relationship with my life and with God, I know it is true. This is not “how I like it” but a real. You free to reject it. Your free to think Jesus is not real and far fetched to boot.

  4. I am not trying to “evangelize” you to my way of thinking. As an aside, that would not be the correct term. Instead, I would reason with you to a correct way of thinking (which I’m not assuming is my current way of thinking). Evangelism starts with a dogmatic belief and merely shares it with others under the presumption that it is true. Reasoning, however, is about questioning beliefs and finding potential and actual flaws and then fixing them accordingly.

    With that said, I do believe that skepticism is the more appropriate response in this matter. The “reality” you speak of seems indistinguishable from pure imagination, but I digress. The reason I asked you this is because I am curious about the rest of your position, namely on Hell and what you think God expects of humans. If skepticism is a valid response to the whole Jesus story, then how can one honestly be held accountable? How could God justly punish or even be angry with someone who found his/herself to be skeptical?

  5. Ernesto Tinajero

    Ryan,
    “Instead, I would reason with you to a correct way of thinking”
    “With that said, I do believe that skepticism is the more appropriate response in this matter.”
    “You say that you respond to the story of Jesus in wonder, but why is it not at least equally valid to respond to it in skepticism?”

    You say that you respond to the story of Jesus in skepticism, but why is it not at least equally valid to respond to it in wonder?

    I grant you your response as valid, and yet mine response in wonder is incorrect thinking and a less appropriate response. Got it.

    I must settle to my incorrect way of thinking. Maybe my mom dropped my on my head too many times.

  6. All I stated was what I thought. Remember though, the question was/is about what YOU think. I’m wondering how you reconcile the admission that skepticism is a valid response with the view that God holds us accountable for whether or not we believe in Jesus?

  7. Ernesto Tinajero

    “I’m wondering how you reconcile the admission that skepticism is a valid response with the view that God holds us accountable for whether or not we believe in Jesus?”

    Simple. It is not the only one. Since only you style of thinkin’ can be any sort of reasonableness, I don’t have to reconcile it. I is a fool.

    On the “YOU think.” You already established that I do not think correctly. I am, by logical conclusion, a duffus. While I am grateful for you trying to teach me how to think proper, but
    Mas’ Ryan you can’t teach us dumb fools. The best you can do for fools is let us be.

    The one thing I do appreciate about Dr. Dawkins, it his being logical consistent. He would think me a fool and child abuser. He would think me not worth the time.

  8. Note that I said that I believe skepticism to be a *more appropriate* response. I never said yours was invalid and even said I can appreciate that it is real to you. I also explicitly said that I am not assuming that my way of thinking is the correct way. This is the reason to think through these matters rationally. You might be right. So why are you dodging my question with this little game? I am not trying to insult you, but am asking a legitimate question about your position. If you aren’t sure, just say so, but don’t avoid the question by trying to make me look like a jackass.

  9. Hi Ernesto,
    thanks for sharing your practice, which looks to me lead to the fruits of love and kindness. It seems to me that any practice that leads to less harm, more wonder, love, kindness, is a beneficial practice :-) And of course there is going to be challenge in finding pathways of communication when the viewpoints are very different. But i think that is one of the reasons for this site. Regards

  10. Ernesto Tinajero

    Ryan,

    My post was about my play with my son and how experience with love through this act. Now, if you addressed this, I perhaps would have responded. Or if I wrote about God’s punishment. I do have a worked out thought on my faith and what punishment means.

    The thing you don’t get, I was not writing about my position but my experience of my faith. The post had nothing to do with you question except the first. In fact the question had more to do with your last post than mine. By highjacking the comments with questions that were not raised within the post, it was insulting as if I was sharing my love for my wife is greeted by a question on adultery. Throughout this exchanged you said my experience was pure imagination. I been called to give an account about my thought process, that I avoid your questions.

  11. Ernesto –
    I was not intending to highjack the thread. I thought it was pertinent as it had to do with how one responds to the story of Jesus and asking questions like, “who is Jesus?”. Again, I can appreciate that it is real to you, but for many it is very much not real. I struggled with this as I was losing my faith. I wanted to believe, but it just didn’t seem real to me. People always paint their views about God as fluffy rainbows and how they see God in all these things, but to me it seems indistinguishable from imagination. I don’t doubt that it is real to you, but this naturally leads to the question about those who just don’t operate the same way. And since asking who Jesus is, along with the claim that he was real and died, it is very relevant to the idea of hell. I truly wonder how you reconcile the wonder and awe you speak of with the idea that those who don’t see God will be punished? I really don’t see why that is insulting. But I apologize for coming off that way. This is something I have long struggled with and is not an attempt to just be disagreeable.

  12. John VanDerWalker

    Ernesto,
    Your expression of wonder made me smile on the inside. As a grandfather I sometimes have that same experience with my grand daughters. Living in wonder is a gift of God, the tulips in the front yard, the finches at the feeder, now in full mating plumage. All matters of wonder pointing to one who is the source of all. Thanks.

  13. Ernesto Tinajero

    Laura,
    Thank you for your kind words. I think an even harder and more important practice is looking for Christ in the eyes of those we come in contact with, whether we love them or not.

    J Vanderwalker,
    I think it is important to find the reflection of the divine (The Holy Trinity for me) throughout our life. The abundant life that Jesus promised is all around us and grace abounds if we have eyes to see. Jesus is, indeed, with us.

    Ryan,
    I will answer you in a post as the question is beyond this post

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