THE DIVINE STRUGGLE FOR “I” AND “THOU” IX:
“I AM” with “You”
Soon after the resurrection an angel appeared to the disciples and told them to go to Galilee. Also, Jesus Christ himself asked his disciples to go to a mountain in Galilee. When Jesus and the disciples met there, he declared, “I AM with you alway . . . ” (Matthew 28:20, emphases supplied). He thus expressed the relational “I” and “Thou.”
Forty days after his resurrection Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. Ten days later the disciples gathered in Jerusalem
in one place. . . . And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. — Acts 2:1, 3, 4.
Thus, the risen and ascended Lord bestowed upon his disciples the supreme Gift so that they might reach all nations with the truth of the gospel (Matthew 24:14).
The Gift Misunderstood
The gift of the Spirit was a profound blessing. However, history records that the disciples regarded that gift as a possession, a tool of empowerment, and a license to dominate and denigrate “others.”
Soon the gift was misconstrued as a sign that human beings were destined to attain divinity rather than the genuine humanity that God himself had achieved as Jesus Christ — who is “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). With the passage of time, “followers” of Christ established religious hierarchies, condemned and excluded “others,” and eventually began attacking “unbelievers” in inquisitions, crusades, holocausts, global wars, et al. The result has been the suffering and loss of hundreds of millions of human lives.
After nearly two millennia Christian fundamentalists are still determined to exterminate “unbelievers” by launching the battle of Armageddon, which they believe will occur on the plain of Megiddo in northern Palestine. This battle allegedly will bring the final triumph of true believers over unbelieving communists, Muslims, atheists, etc. Besides wrongly assuming that “Armageddon” refers to a plain in northern Palestine,1 these fundamentalists tragically misunderstand the genuine “I-Thou” Spirit of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17).
The “I-Thou” Invitation
Meanwhile, God as the ultimate “I” — who long ago enunciated the egalitarian “I-Thou” relationship (Matthew 28:20) — invites us to reciprocally respond to his gifts (Revelation 3:20; 22:17). The One who is actively present with all humanity asks us to understand, accept and celebrate his gifts and to return them in word and action, affirming, “By your grace we are with you, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate; and we are with each other, now and forever.”
. . . [W]hether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. . . . But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. — 1 Corinthians 13:8, 10.
Let us therefore be of good courage, for the genuine wholeness of the “I” and “Thou” will soon be fully manifest.
- “ . . . [A]rmageddon is [probably] a corruption of Har Mo’ed (‘mount of assembly’; cf. Isa. 14:13) or of Har Migdo (‘God’s fruitful mountain’), which is taken to refer to Mount Zion. This last suggestion is supported by several passages in Revelation (9:13; 11:14; 14:14-20; 16:12-16), the imagery of which resembles that of Joel, who envisages the power of God proceeding from Mount Zion to battle against the forces of Evil (Joel 2:1-3; 3:16-17, 21).” — Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Armageddon.” (go back)
Last Revised September 2011