27 Jesus and his disciples went into the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told him, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30 Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]
In a reflection on “Integrating Human and Divine Love” Richard Rohr muses, “sometimes other religious traditions seem to bow before this mystery better than Christians do.”
The Christian tradition has made ‘incarnation’ an article of belief and the focus of salvation. The sense of awe before the mystery is replaced by creed and dogma. Intimacy is superceded by doctrine. Instead of looking inwardly, attending to the flow of spirit / mystery / God, we look outward to determine who is a friend (a true believer) or an enemy (an unbeliever, heretic, atheist).
Perhaps the incarnation makes everything too plain and straight-forward, too simple, for the complexities of the human brain. Perhaps God got it wrong, made a mistake. Perchance, God might have kept divinity cloaked in mystery. Jesus tried – reminding the disciples to tell no one that they thought he was the Messiah. That certainly didn’t work!
Mystery requires us to tread lightly and to keep searching. Incarnation has occasioned the Inquisition, the Crusades, burnings at the stake, religious intolerance, and more. Whether or not God got it wrong, we continue to do so.