I had a conversation about war with a friend of mine. We discussed some pros and cons of two or more nations fighting each other (I was providing the cons, mostly) and loving your enemies came up in our conversation as it usually does whenever you talk about war and violence. I suggested that the best way to love your enemies can’t be killing them. I explained that Jesus showed us that true victory doesn’t come through military conquest or political power. Real victory comes through self sacrifice, the greatest example being Jesus himself on the cross dying to defeat his enemy, death (not least the image of John looking in expectation of a ferocious lion and seeing a sacrificial lamb coming to defeat Rome in Revelation 5). Jesus, I suggested, shows us that we must die for our enemies not kill them. At once my friend responded, “Well, Jesus was God.” As if to say that because Jesus was God, he could handle it and we can’t. So we’re off the hook, we don’t have to do that sort of work (whatever the work may be… may it be loving your enemies, loving homosexuals, loving porn stars, loving murderers, loving drunks, etc.) because Jesus is God?
When did the deity of Christ ever become a cop-out? The early Christians saw Jesus’ victory as their own victory, empowering them to do the same things Jesus did (healing, and performing miracles… see the book of Acts). In fact we see this echoed in John’s account of the gospel, “As [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John ).
Jesus not only came as God incarnate but as Humankind—the incarnation of true humanity. He came not only to show us what God is like but what WE truly are like (or are supposed to be like or were created to be like… think of it how you like). Paul refers to Him as the “new Adam”—“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22 also see Romans 5). Christ is the new representation of Humanity to which we can look back to and judge our actions, our philosophies, and our lifestyles. So His deity, His identity as God, doesn’t get us out of anything, rather it calls us into something. Christ’s very identity, not least his teachings, call us to reflect him in all we do—being for the world what Jesus was for the world.
So whatever the issue, however you wish to argue it, please don’t use Jesus deity as an excuse or a cop-out. Jesus called us to be his disciples because he believed that we could teach what he taught, do what he did, hang out with the sort of people he hung out with, and go where he went.