The mercy of God exceeds our religious imagination. For we conceive of religion as moral behavior, deeds of justice, setting right things that are wrong, and doing what should be done. And we think religion is about empathy and compassion for others, conquering our wrong-headed desires, treating others fairly, and not shoving aside the little guys. And we are certain that religion means loving the unlovable, helping the hurting, honoring the honorable, and imitating those who stand up for the right principles.
All of that is good. And all of that is found in Jesus’ sermon on the mount, and His other ethical teachings. There is nothing wrong with this view of religion—this understanding of the Christian religion. Except that it does not go far enough. It does not take in the fullness of God’s mercy. It’s limited to forgiveness, kindness, and fair-mindedness—to deeds we wish God to do to us, and that we should do to others.
In God’s imagination, in the image that He has for us, the ethical teachings of Jesus is merely the tip of why He came into the world; why He deigned to become one of us. For Our Lord is ultimately not our role model. He becomes what we are so that we might become what He is. The Son of God wishes to make us sons of God.
And so the only-begotten Son of God took upon Him our nature and became human so that we humans might become gods.
To be sure, not the uncreated God through whom all things were made. For He cannot deny that He made us.
Rather, we are made to be gods so that we might sit with God in heavenly places. So that we might converse with God, banquet with God, judge with God, live as gods.
In this scheme, the angels are servants—ministers who minister to us for God. And everything else—the animals, plants, rocks, dirt, stars and moons, and all other created things—these are the ambiance in the dining room which is God’s heaven. And we sit there with God—eating the food He supplies us, enjoying each other’s company, reveling in speaking with God, marveling at the beauty with which He’s surrounded us.
But how do we get to be gods?
Certainly not by imitation. That’s both silly and unreasonable. For who can be something just by acting in the right way? When can doing fundamentally change being?
And we can’t be gods simply by willing it. For our wills are too weak. And even if they are strengthened by tests, we will never be able to match wits with God.
So how do we get to be gods?
We get to be gods by consuming God. By taking God into the innards of who we are: into our bodies, so that God’s divine nature meshes with ours; into our hearts, so that God’s love transforms our misdirected loves; and into our souls, so that we might have God’s mind, His will, and therefore desire precisely what He desires.
Us becoming gods begins not with us. And it’s not about God snapping His fingers, like some wizard or magician.
Us becomes gods begins with God taking a body from us—taking into Himself the fullness of our weakness and vulnerability, the fullness of our propensity to sin, the fullness of everything that limits us from being gods. In His Son, God becomes the worst and the incompleteness that we are and offers and sacrifices it wholly, totally, completely, entirely to His Father on the altar of the cross in order to transform it in His Body.
And when He has accomplished this mission, when “It is finished,” He then uses the blood that was the price, the blood that poured from His side—He uses that blood to cleanse and purify us so that we are ready and prepped to consume God. And then flesh that was laid, dead, in the tomb, and then raised and glorified when He walked from the tomb—that flesh He feeds into us.
That Body and Blood, which was capable of carrying and containing every human—that Body and Blood Our Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, then feeds into us in order to transform us, in order to make us more human than we thought we could be. But above all, He feeds us His flesh and blood so that we might become gods.
Gods we are, because we partake of God. Gods we are, because the Son of God as fed into our bodies our own bodies transfigured in His body. And gods we are, because the Spirit of God has used the flesh of God to transform our minds into the mind of Christ.
Now this is our salvation. Not just that we do right by God, but first that we receive Him who did right by God, who gives us the right to be called ‘children of God’ because God’s blood courses through our veins, God’s flesh is knit to our flesh, and God’s desires are working in our minds.
And so we are gods. Because God actually, truly lives in us—in the innards of who we are.
This is what Our Lord Jesus means by the word “Life.” To live is to be the gods God made us to be. And ‘those eat My flesh and drink My blood’ have My life in them—My Life which is God’s life, which now lets us be called, and be really, in truth and in love, sons of God, and therefore gods.