One of the flaws in much of modern religious thought is to approach God as someone who can make our lives easier. Therefore, the ecclesiastical crowd makes every effort to offer comfort to those individuals experiencing a bumpy road—as if God is to be petitioned and expected to remove any discomfort, suffering or personal tragedy we face.
While I do not demean empathy and kindness, much of my experience with organized religion shows a prevailing attitude to overlook the holiness and spiritual necessity of “bad crap” in our lives. Yes, holiness!
Actually, “bad crap” plays a sacred role in the Trinitarian doctrine of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To understand this we need the help of scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg because this topic embraces both physics and theology.
In physics, all energy and action is under law. Laws in the universe provide the constraints (resistance), which define the parameters and the quality of a particular force. Without constraints and obstacles the quality and measurement of an action cannot be known. There are three essentials to manifestation: 1) initiating force, 2) resisting force and 3) reconciling force (which gives us an observable and measured outcome).
This universal law in nature has its origins in the dynamical relationships of the Holy Trinity. God the “Father” represents initiating force. The “Son” represents resistance. And, the Holy Spirit is the kinetic outcome of the two.
It is beyond the scope of this short blog to prove Swedenborg’s theology that Jesus was Jehovah in the flesh, however, the prevailing idea that God is three Persons can still offer us valuable insights into the holiness and importance that “s_ _t happens.” (See my blog post titled “Three Gods or One God?”).
The purpose of Jesus coming into the world was to “do the will of the Father.” So Jehovah God represents the initiating force. Because Jesus was given a human body of flesh (with all its hereditary compulsions) and the inertia of physical matter, He had to overcome real “earthly” resistance to divine and heavenly dictates. That Jesus felt abandoned at times and showed fear were clear indications of His real battle with a finite and flawed human nature. By overcoming His human nature He conquered all human sin (resistance) and made His material body perfectly Divine and Holy—that is why there was an empty tomb.
The Lord conquered all sin but did not remove it. We must (on our own finite scale) go through a similar process by imploring the Lord’s help in identifying our own personal flaws and the power to overcome them. Swedenborg insisted that salvation could not lawfully take place without overcoming resistance, which in spiritual jargon is called temptation and misfortune.
The process of salvation is not the enhancement of a positive state—it simply leads us to a positive state. Affliction and temptation are the holy means by which God helps us to arrive at innocence and sincere goodness. Our negative side must be exposed and dealt with first. This determines the quality of our goodness.
Even those who have studied Swedenborg might argue that in his three-fold description of the Divine Trinity, the Father represented Divine Love, the Son represented the Divine Truth (He came into the world as the Truth) and the Holy Spirit represented the Divine Love coming forth through the Divine Truth.
How then does Truth serve as resistance to Love?
The answer is that Truth gives law and quality to Love. Truth is the form, constraint and parameter by which Love’s quality is put on display and measured. The Lord Jesus Christ put on display the quality of Divine Love towards the human race through His selfless sacrifice and servitude.
Jesus was Divine Truth because He gave form to Divine Love and made it visible and knowable.