Pentecost is upon us, and after last Sunday’s sermon, I’d like to reflect a little more on the idea of the "Complexification of Christ", especially at this time of deep divisions that exist within the church and in our society. Here is the paragraph from last Sunday's sermon, in which I make reference to this idea: “In the prayer, Christ recognizes human divisions, but the prayer is not in any way hampered by those divisions; rather, the prayer reaches towards the goal of oneness. Not the kind of oneness that swallows up differences by pretense, nor the kind of oneness that minimizes differences, or even rejects them because they find no value in them, but the kind that celebrates humanity in all its forms, and shapes, and sizes, and colors, and beliefs... the oneness that appeals beyond categories. Some call it the "Complexification of Christ", which means accepting the diversity and differences of the other as integral to ourselves, and thus integral to the meaning of Christ. More importantly, engaging the other is not about dissolving ourselves into the other, instead it is about being true to ourselves - our identity - by finding ourselves in God, and God in the other.” The prayer in reference is Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17.
One of the unique qualities about the Day of Pentecost was the broadening of the language of the one God. The I Am, who the Jews uphold to be the God. Prior to Pentecost, I Am was only known to speak one language. But on the morning of Pentecost, people from multiple cities around the world heard, in their own language, the wonderful extraordinary works of God - the I Am. If they had never heard, in their own language, what God has done, what God is doing, and what God is willing and capable of doing, now they do. If diaspora Jews and others thought that they could only hear, in one language, the hidden purpose of I Am,here they found out that I Am now speaks to us in a language that they can understand, that God now speaks in a language that their children can hear and respond to. In fact, they do not have to learn a new language in order to hear God speak to them; God can speak to them in their own language as He speaks to us in our own language. How liberating must that have been!
Over the years thereafter, the challenge of the disciples was one where they either had to devise a two-step process - circumcision and baptism - by which those who hear God’s saving acts in their own language can become Christians, or the one step process - baptism - by which all others who respond to God’s redeeming works in their own language can become Christians. At the Council of Jerusalem - Acts 15 - which was presided over by James the brother of Jesus, the apostles determined not to burden those who have come to faith in Christ with anything but… “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell”
A fair reading of the declaration by the apostles highlights not only the acknowledgment of the diversity and differences that abound in God’s creation, but the affirmation and acceptance of those differences as part of God Himself. What the apostles came to appreciate was that to understand the meaning of Christ is to acknowledge that human differences are part of who we are, and part of the nature of God. For that reason, we do not have to lose our identity in order to be Christians or to engage the other. We only lose our complexion in Christ. In fact, understanding our identity and who we are is at the core of the idea of the Complexification of Christ.
Suffice it to say that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Since all are one in Christ, the Complexification of Christ is not only an affirmation that each is created in the image of God, but every human being is a house of God - Emmanuel, God in us, God with us, God in the midst of our lives.
Need I find another reason to lose my complexion in Christ?
No, I don't think so.