What brings the most glory to God?
Being a good person?
Having an expansive theological knowledge?
Believing the right doctrines?
Let me give you the suggestion that Rod offered at Space For God last night - being outrageously yourself.
Now, I must admit that's a fairly outrageous suggestion. Throughout most of the history of Christendom our essential humanness has been held in disdain by those in authority. To be human is seen to be dirty, corrupt, totally depraved. And you dare not do anything so human as to enjoy yourself and smile. In Calvin's theocracy of Geneva in the sixteenth century, to smile during a baptism (which I would have thought was meant to be a happy event) would get you imprisoned for three days.
Even though we may no longer be locked away for having the audacity to enjoy ourselves, the suppression of our humanity in Christendom continues. A good Christian is seen as someone who acts in a certain way, believes certain things and speaks Christianese fluently. And if you want to fit in, remember this advice: show emotion at your own peril, because if you do, people will think that you're a bit unstable. That is, unless you belong to a Pentecostal church, in which case you can show the type of emotion carefully scripted by the church to which you belong.
It didn't always used to be this way. Once upon a time, before Christianity had become Christendom, the humanity of humanity was celebrated. Nowhere was this more evident than in the quote of second century Church Father Irenaeus who wrote that "The glory of God is a person fully alive". The root cause of humanity's alienation and estrangement from God is not that we are human, but rather that we are not fully human. And shamefully, Christendom has proved not to be a help in this pursuit, but rather it has become a hindrance.
Think about it. The Psalmist writes that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). We are made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27). This is something to celebrate. In celebration, let us dance. And sing. And shout. And do precisely those unrefined and unkempt things that make us truly feel human, but make Christendom uncomfortable. To celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant, King David went so far to affirm his humanity as to dance naked (2 Samuel 6:14-20). He too was chastised for his unreasonable and inappropriate display of emotion. Just to reassure people, I'm not quite ready yet to affirm my humanity in such a bold manner, so you can all take a deep sigh of relief!
Perhaps one of the ways we inadvertently subvert our humanity and that of others is to assume that we are merely rational beings. As Rod pointed out, this is a legacy of Medieval theology that still exists in contemporary Christendom. Logic and rationality has been and still is championed over emotion and intuition. Because logic and rationality have traditionally been viewed as synonymous with masculinity, with emotion and intuition being seen as synonymous with femininity, Christendom has generally suppressed and subverted the feminine perspective. I think it would a fair comment to suggest that this has only served to impoverish Christendom. To adequately express the human condition it is necessary to listen to both the male and female voices in the Church.
Perhaps our distorted understanding of what it means to be human stems from the fact that we have traditionally viewed God in exclusively masculine terms. While it is right to affirm the masculinity of God, we also need to affirm God's essential femininity. On the margins there have been concerted attempts to do this. For instance, there has been a long standing tradition to equate the Holy Spirit, the Third person of the Trinity with Sophia, the goddess of Wisdom. There is much to commend this perspective, considering the personification of Wisdom in the book of Proverbs (in female terms, no less), the fact that the Hebrew word for Spirit - "ruach" is distinctly feminine and the development of Trinitarian theology in the apocryphal writings.
I would like to suggest that Christendom would gain a much greater understanding of God and of what it means to be human by re-examining the person of the Holy Spirit. She is a creative, emotive being. She is not necessarily ordered or logical - or at the very least does not correspond with our understanding of order or logic. In fact, at Pentecost we see the Holy Spirit at Her most spontaneous and chaotic. Nor is She subject to our human constructions - She is a mystery beyond our deepest understandings. While She dwells with us and we dwell with Her, we cannot comprehend the depths of Her being. Indeed, the Holy Spirit provides an interesting metaphor for the paradox of human existence. We are at the same time ordered and chaotic, transcendent and imminent, familiar and ineffable. Let us celebrate it all.