In 1962, Don Richardson struggled to communicate the Gospel to the Sawi people of West Papua, Indonesia; they could not relate, and they would not stop going to war with each other. When Richardson informed them that he was leaving, they promised to make peace if only he would stay.
In the morning, he witnessed the most passionate ritual he had ever seen. He watched each tribe offer a “peace child” to the other tribe—one baby from each tribe that would be raised by the other tribe. As long as the child lived, peace was secured. Richardson realized, “This ritual is an ‘Altar to the Unknown God.’” And so, he read to them Isaiah 9:6: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.”
Years later on Christmas day, one Sawi man discovered a man from another tribe who had killed his brother—his brother who had been offered by his father as a peace child. As war was about to break out, Richardson “plead the Peace Child” saying, “But our Father in Heaven offered his Son for this man too. We killed him; even ate his body broken and drank his blood, and yet he lives.” At that, war was abated, and they celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, for the government was upon his shoulder.
As we saw last week, Paul discovered the “Altar to the Unknown God” on Mars Hill—that is, “God of War Hill.” We conjectured that perhaps there is an altar like that in every nation, every tribe, and every heart. God builds the altar. And God supplies the lamb.
The altar is a longing for love, and the lamb is the decision to love.
The altar is like a manger, and the lamb is the Prince of Peace.
“God made from one man every nation of mankind … that they should seek God,” said Paul.
I wonder what “man” Paul was talking about? The first man, Adam, doesn’t seek; the last man came to seek the lost, and to do God’s will.
Paul writes, “The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam (“Eschatos Adam,” Ultimate Adam, Super Man) became a life-giving spirit.” Paul also tells us that the first is a “tupos” (type, imprint, or form) of the last.
If I took a plastic Superman figurine and pressed it into clay, it would create a “tupos.” If the Eschatos man is “the Good in flesh,” then the first man is the absence of “the Good in flesh.” It is what it is not: knowledge of the Good, but at the same time an absence of the Good; it’s knowledge of life, but the absence of “the Life”; it’s the imprint of Love—knowledge of what should be, yet an absence of what truly is… kind of like an altar to the unknown God.
God uses all things to build the altar, and God supplies the lamb.
He creates the experience of the absence of Love and gives us the desire to love.
Love is losing your life and finding it in another. Love seeks not its own.
“As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive,” writes Paul. “Then the son will also be subjected to him who puts all things in subjection to himself, that God may be all in all.” Gregory of Nyssa taught that Christ does this by giving us his Spirit, his will. So, God subjects all things to himself, not from the outside in like a “god of war,” but from the inside out like a bridegroom who romances a new desire from within his bride.
“The first Adam became a living soul (a tupos); the Eschatos Adam became a life-giving Spirit”—that’s the Spirit that fills the temple that was once a tupos, that is, you.
Paul wrote, “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
It’s the Spirit that first formed the void in the clay, that is the tupos, the first Adam.
And it’s the Spirit that inhabits that void, like a presence behind a curtain enticing you to seek the one who made you and all the ones that he has made, in whom he is hidden.
It’s the Spirit that will flood your temple as the curtain rips from top to bottom, and you begin to trust the Eschatos Adam, the Will of God, Presence of Love.
It’s Love that “hopes all things” and ”binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
As we preached last time, God plays Hide-n-Seek with his children… or perhaps “Sardines.” In Sardines, one person hides, and when found, others hide with that person until all that were out are now in and laughing uncontrollably. The New Jerusalem is how God plays Sardines with creation. It is a city—the city of Shalom, peace—and a temple, and the body of the Prince of Peace, the Superman.
In the children’s movie, “The Iron Giant,” an Iron Giant falls to earth from heaven with the ability to annihilate the earth—like a god of war. But the Iron Giant is befriended by a fatherless boy named Hogarth who tells him that he is who he chooses to be.
In terror of the Iron Giant, the military launches a nuclear warhead to destroy the Iron Giant, unaware that this will also destroy the earth. The Giant chooses to blast into space and save the earth by detonating the warhead with his own body; he chooses to be Superman, in Greek, the “Eschatos Adam.”
Pieces of the Iron Giant—like pieces of body broken and blood shed—rain down all over the earth. Hogarth keeps one piece in a box by his bed. The box is like an altar, or maybe a manger, and that piece of the Iron Giant like the Christ Child… or maybe a communion wafer.
At the end of the movie, the pieces of the Iron Giant come to life, and all begin to seek the head… and Hogarth seeks the Iron Giant. This is the “plan for the fullness of time, to unite—[bring together under one head]—all things in him [Christ Jesus]” (Eph. 1:10).
“…He made from one man every nation of mankind…that they should seek God…” said Paul. “…But now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world… in a man [not by a man]… and of this he has given faith [pistis] to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:26-27, 30-31).
Faith in you is the life of the Peace Child in you, the Superman rising from the dead in you, God’s choice, God’s decision, God’s judgment in you. And what is the “Judgment on that day?” Well…that is the Superman.
He is God’s Judgment: “Man” in the image and likeness of God.
It forces a question: Will you choose to be who you truly are?
Until you agree with the Judgment of God, you remain in outer darkness.
Yet, you will ultimately agree with the Judgment of God, for that is who you truly are: The Body of the Christ, the Eschatos man, the Superman.
What difference does this make? Well for one, there is a baby in every manger.
And when you believe it, every day will be Christmas day.
For unto us a Son is given.