Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

Scan 140950001 donkeyWhat do I learn about God? HUMBLE, APPROACHABLE, UNDERDOG, COURAGEOUS -

1.  A HUMBLE GOD. Before Jesus, almost no pagan author had used "humble" as a compliment. The God came on earth not in a raging whirwind nor in a devouring fire. The Maker of all things shrank down, so small as to become an ovum, a single fertilized egg inside a nervous teenager. "He made Himself nothing...He humbled Himself" said Apostle Paul. When the Jews read Isaiah's words, no doubt they thought back with sharp nostalgia to the glory days of Solomon, when "the king made silver as common in Jerusalim as stones". The Messiah Jesus who showed up, however, wore a different kind of glory, "the glory of humility".  "That God is little, that is the truth which Jesus taught man".  God emerged in Palestine as a baby who could not speak or eat solid food or control his bladder, who depended on a teenager for shalter, food, and love. Christmas had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on Him... Now, at the trimumphal entry, a hired mule will cary Him.

2. AN APPROACHABLE GOD. In most religious traditions, fear is the primary emotion when one approaches God. Certainly the Jews associated fear with worship: the burning bush of Moses, the hot coals of Isaiah, the estra-terrestrial visions of Ezekiel, the sacred mountain in the desert, the untouchable ark of the covenant - enter the Most Holy Place, and you'd never come out alive! Fear had never worked very well. Deity was too large for men, His action too incomprehensible, His mercy  they saw as cruelty, His attempts at healing they viewed as destruction. God  made a surprise appearance as a baby in a manger. The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history. The Word became flesh.

3. UNDERDOG. It's a crude word, probably derived from dogfighting and applied over time to predictable losers and victims of injustice. The world may be tilted towards the rich and powerful, but God is tilted toward the underdog. "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty", said Mary in her Magnificat hymn. Mary, un unwed mother, homeless, was forced to look for shelter while traveling to meet the heavy taxation demands of a colonial government; she became a refugee in Africa, the continent where most refugees can still be found. Some foreign astrologers had dropped by to visit Jesus. After they saw the child and realised who He was,  these visitors engaged in an act of civil desobedience and deceived Herod - they had chosen Jesus' side, against the powerful. Growing up, Jesus' sensibilities were affected most deeply by the poor, the powerless, the oppressed - in short, the underdogs.

4. COURAGEOUS. "A Messiah from Galilee? A carpenter's kid, no less? Isn't his mother's Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simeon, and Judas?  Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"  It took courage for God to lay aside power and glory and to take place among human beings who would greet Him with a mixture of haughtiness and skepticism. It took courage to risk descent to a planet known for its clumsy violence, among a race known for rejecting its prophets. "Along of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator" (G.K.Chesterton)

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