A long time ago, there was a king who ruled over a great kingdom, with many cities. The king was a good king, granting his people the freedom they deserved. But eventually, some people in one of the distant cities began to take advantage of their freedom by rebelling and doing whatever they wanted, eventually breeding a lifestyle of violence, hatred, murder, rape, slavery, and fear. The king thought to himself, "What should I do? If I take my army and conquer the city by force, the people will fight against me, and I'll have to kill so many of them, and the rest will only submit through fear or intimidation, which will make them hate me and all I stand for even more. How does that help them--to be either dead or imprisoned or secretly seething with rage? But if I leave them alone, they'll destroy each other, and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they're causing and experiencing."
So the king did something unexpected: He left his castle and his royalty, dressed in grubby clothes, and lived among the people of this rebelling city incognito. He pitched a cardboard box by a dumpster and lived there, making a living fixing broken pottery and furniture. He exemplified kindness and goodness and respectfullness and fairness so much so that people began to notice him, eventually became infatuated with him. People gathered around him, followed him, and when the subject of the rebellion came up, he told them that their king had a better way to live for them, a way which he exemplified and taught. People started growing in their confidence in him, eventually mimicing his worldview in their own lives.
Their movement grew, and eventually spread to enough people that they wanted to express regret for their mistakes, but were ashamed to go to the king and apologize for fear of the king destroying them. Then the king-in-disguise revealed himself as the king he really was, and in doing so accomplished through a subtle presence what never could have been accmplished through brute force.
He welcomed them back into his kingdom.
My initial thought after reading this was, "Wow, this really helps me understand the whole Jesus thing in a way I never have before." I felt like my mind was wrapped around the Trinity just a little more tightly: Jesus always has existed; God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit really are one, yet really are seperate; etc.
Then, just as I was starting to feel good about myself for understanding something that all my seminary-student friends love to tell me about, another much more Jesse-esque thought creeped in: "Holy crap... God is a big fat liar."
Did God really have to pretend to be a human to save the world? Did he trick us all into falling for him? Is Jesus just a pretty disguise used by God to fool us into thinking we can be saved? Is God a politician and Jesus his lobbyist?
Hmmm... Once again, I find myself going back to my black-and-white worldview. Maybe a different way of looking at it is this: Rather than God's becoming a human a form of manipulation, it's a form of humility--bringing himself down to my mere human level. God knows that I (albeit with much prodding) can relate with a human--I can't, however, find very much in common with the creater of the cosmos, even though that creator obviously wants to relate with me. So in a weird way, God HAS to "lie" to the world, for the world's own good, with the divine precognition that we have the capacity to realize that it isn't a lie at all--it's His ultimate, divine form of humility and vulnerablity.
Ok, this is the part of my writing process where I start to lose my train of thought, so I'm just going to hit "publish" now and wrap it up later. But in the meantime feel free to post comments as I work through my unquenchable cynisism of everything--Including (appearently) God.