Josh Valley is the founder and editor of Jesus for Humans (J4H). He is an award-winning writer and columnist for his work at ChristianWeek.org and author of the forthcoming book, Bonhoeffer’s Theology of the Cross: A Primer with Applications for Today (Wipf and Stock, 2017).
His award-winning articles at ChristianWeek.org include: “Donald Trump and other madness Evangelicals fall for,” and “Seeing Jesus as a refugee.”
He holds a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Theological Studies from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, where he received the Stanley A. Boswell Expository Preaching Award and the Dr. Ross and Carol Bailey Theology Award.
His writing has been featured in multiple magazines and online platforms in Canada and the United States including: Bedlam Magazine, The Presbyterian Record, HelloChristian, ChristianWeek, CWR Magazine, Tyndale Magazine, Resonance Journal of Theology, and The Canadian Council of Churches.
A world where all human beings, despite our many differences, can find the real, self-giving, unfailing, human-embracing, and shalom-giving love of God in Jesus.
Equipping human beings to see God through the eyes of cruciform love.
Why? We love the idea of a Spirit-inspired movement that focuses on bringing human beings closer to the God we know in Jesus—the concrete image and executor of God’s cruciform love.
What does it mean that God is cruciform love?
When we say that God is cruciform love, what we mean is that God’s essential nature—what most defines Him at the center of His being—is revealed in the voluntary, self-emptying love of Jesus on the cross.
At the cross of Jesus, who the Bible says is the “visible image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), and in whom the “fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9), is the superlative revelation of the Triune God and His unfailing love for human beings. “The cross stands at the heart of the trinitarian being of God.” (Moltmann).
The Lamb slain and the Word made flesh
Jesus is the concrete image and executor of God’s cruciform love. And so when the Bible says that Jesus is the “Lamb who was slain from the creation of the earth” (Rev. 13:8), not only is this cruciform love reality displayed on the Redeemer’s cross, but also in the Creator’s handiwork. This means that God, through Jesus, not only emptied Himself to redeem and heal human beings and the earth at the cross, but that God also emptied Himself prior to creation so that He could make room for human beings like us. “Through him [the cruciform Word] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).
In Jesus, God revealed His cruciform love through the voluntary, self-emptying work of the incarnation and crucifixion of Jesus. And Jesus, who is the eternal “Word [of the cosmos] made flesh” (John 1:14) is not only “God with us” (Matt. 1:23) but also God for us (Luther, Bonhoeffer).
“Where Jesus is, there is God’s love” (Bonhoeffer). God is most “God” at the cross of Jesus, where He [and His power] is paradoxically revealed in weakness, humility, forgiveness, mercy and suffering solidarity with humanity.
War via the cross
And because God is cruciform love at His core, He wages war in the spiritual and earthly realms only through the cross of cruciform love and the power of the Spirit who is spreading the good news of that unfathomable love to human beings throughout the human Empire.
When Jesus For Humans (J4H) says its mission is to equip human beings to see God through the eyes of cruciform love, we are looking to help human beings (for everyone is human and that’s what unites us) see and understand the core nature of the Triune God of the Bible in and through the cross of Jesus—the concrete image and executor of God’s cruciform love.
The J4H breakdown—RealityX4
Human Reality: Human beings live in a world of paradoxical realities. We live in a world of contradictions, both globally and personally. We experience life and death, healing and suffering, pain and joy, peace and terror, forgiveness and shame, plenty and poverty, good and evil…the list could go on. The paradoxical reality human beings see, feel and experience is reflected in the Bible. In the Bible we learn that God creates a good world. Than evil enters the world, followed by human sin, death and suffering. Thus we are left with a world where good and bad exist together in contradiction—a paradoxical reality.
Cross Reality: The biblical God of love sees, understands, and deeply cares about the death, pain, confusion, anger, shame and fear human beings face in this paradoxical reality we call human existence. Because the biblical God is defined by love and faithfulness, He voluntarily enters the world He created in the Person of Jesus, His Son, on a rescue mission to triumph over Satan and to redeem humanity and the earth. Jesus collides with the paradoxical realities of the human world and is crucified on a Roman cross. In this act, God reveals that His forgiving and self-emptying (kenotic) love for human beings is concrete and that He is with us in our suffering. In Jesus, we can be certain that God is defined by cruciform love.
Church Reality: Jesus calls the Church to be His servants of suffering love and shalom in a world of chaos and confusion. The Church is called to be a culture of faithful servants who point others to Jesus and model community after Jesus as they face the paradoxical realities of life in solidarity with the broken and oppressed. “The church is the church only when it exists for others,” says Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Letters and Papers from Prison. Yet, what we see in North American Christianity are multiple forms of “gospels” that have manipulated and abandoned the good news of Jesus and His kingdom of peace. From prosperity gospel preachers who peddle “God’s Word” for personal gain and power, fundamentalists whose literal interpretation of the Bible cast God as a violent and unstable tyrant, to the invasion of celebrity culture in the Church and the worship of pastors as god-like figures of fame and fortune, the North American Church has struggled in some major ways to place Jesus at the center of its theology and witness in the world.
Hope Reality: If Christianity, or the Bible for that matter, it is about anything, it is about hope. It is not about hell. It is not about God’s violent wrath in the End Times. It is not about creating religious communities centered on celebrity pastors. It is not about the so-called rapture. It is not about spiritual elation and mystic indulgence. It is not about a God whose holy-essence allows Him to suspend ethics and command genocide. It s not about power and wealth, fame and fortune. It is not about how to become morally superior to our neighbor. It is about one thing, and one thing only: Jesus and the concrete hope He has made real to human beings through His suffering love and conquering resurrection. Christianity is about God colliding with the broken and paradoxical realities of human existence in Jesus to suffer with us, to forgive us, to heal us, to love us, to place us on a path of salvation and on a course of resurrection hope. It is about “the big picture of cosmic redemption,” says N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope, that God and the Bible “invites us to make our own.”