I receive a regular email from a minister who ministers in the city, where many of the residents suffer from mental illness. In the email he shared how someone came up to him and shared the following joke.
“Hey” rev, he was asked. “Whats the difference between God and me?” “God never imagines he is me!” he continued with the answer.
At first I laughed about this joke. Thinking of the times I had placed myself above God through my own actions, thoughts and words. While it wasn’t deliberate, in a subconscious way I had elevated myself above God and imagined I was God. Then I started to reflect more on the answer. And I came to the conclusion that God has indeed imagined himself to be me. And he has imagined himself to be you. And our families. And our neighbors. And he imagined himself to be everyone in the world.
He imagined the fullness of the destructiveness of our sinfulness. And he did this way before the creation of the world. And imagination that knew, the world needed Christ. An imagination so intense – one that was saturated in perfect love. One that was so left or right field – no one in their right mind (human that is) would have dared to imagine this for themselves. He planned from the beginning his son to be the answer. He planned Jesus to be God made flesh. The same flesh and blood that you, I and all of humanity share in.
God didn’t have to imagine what it was like to be you and me. He knew what it was like to be you and me. He experienced what it was like to be you and me. And so he knows what it is like to be you and me. And humanity did the unimaginable- they took God’s word made flesh, whipped him, tortured him and executed him on a cross. And towards the end of his life; he took a deep breathe and said, “Father, forgive them for what they have done, they have no idea what they are doing!”
The good news is, that God knew exactly what he was doing. He already knew what humanity was going to do to Jesus. And so he planned for his son to take the full brunt of our sin, onto himself. But, he didn’t finish there. His plans were to raise Jesus from the dead three days later. Because, death could not hold him.
Death could not hold him because he was and is the author of life. And in him, we have the promise of life. Abundant life. A life that we could never imagine. And we can receive this life – because God, dared to imagine, what it would be like, to be one of us.