Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.
Well, as a human being I pretty much know how I think, but I am not all that certain that I know how God thinks. Jesus’ words to Peter are more than harsh. He calls him Satan! In a way I am surprised that it didn’t end their relationship right then and there. But it must have been the words that followed that caused Peter to hang around. He must have wondered what so upset his master and teacher and where Jesus’ dark mood was leading. “Lose your life in order to save it.” What? At any rate, not thinking as God does seems to have dire consequences. So how does one become schooled in thinking like God rather than the human beings he created us to be?
It strikes me that contemplating those things that most distinguish us as created in the image and likeness of God would also give us clues as to how God thinks—how God views things. As human beings our levels of intellect and imagination, free will and decision making, certainly set us apart from the world around us. And I have always thought it amusing that one of our specific differences is risibility—the ability to laugh. So besides the obvious conclusion that God must have a sense of humor, I think that considering the nature of an artist, with all of her or his ways of viewing things might tell us a great deal about how God thinks.
Consider the artist standing before his or her work of art. What is the basic desire of an artist at work? We usually speak of passion when we refer to artists or when we describe their art to someone else. This past Lenten season after a Sunday Mass, one of our girls, Kourtney, presented me with her drawing of a cross. The cross was dwarfed and upstaged by a large rainbow, and underneath she had pasted the name JESUS in bold letters. Then after Jesus’ name she wrote in her own handwriting: “for the priests.” I was so touched by this little girl’s artwork and her prayerful thought, that I pasted the picture to the bottom of the crucifix in our sacristy where it remained these past months. Kourtney, not yet so complicated or distracted by responsibility and goals, succeeded in thinking as God thinks, seeing as God sees—Jesus’ priests need to show the cross, but to preach hope. That’s my take, anyway.
Back to Jesus and Peter. The Father, the Creator, sent his Son into the world to restore his work of art—the Kingdom. I believe that Jesus’ reaction to Peter’s rebuke is only a demonstration of his deep desire for the Kingdom and of his passion to bring it about. Only Satan could suggest that the Savior, the Restorer, should hush up about the whole thing for fear of reprisals. Jesus seems horrified at the thought of the real reprisal that would be brought about by his ceasing and desisting—the end of hope, the loss of heaven and of eternal life.
In the meantime you and I are left charged with continuing Jesus’ restoration. We would do well to go about our task as artists—artists with passion and desire for the Kingdom. We should see the Church as our studio and the world as the canvas on which we leave our unique image of God. We must take heart that it is indeed possible to see and think as God sees and thinks. We only need to consider our homes and the families that dwell there, the peaceful future we desire for our children and youth, and the careers we hope will make a difference, to know that what Jesus started continues in us. And in losing our lives to the Kingdom, we will save them.