For the biblical truth, He is alpha, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Revelation 22:13
I speak however of the definition of “alpha” that is more related to power and authority,to success and dominance. Ironically, “alpha” in this case came into being from evo/psych, from observing a pack of wolves and projecting those behaviors onto humans, as if we humans have pack leaders and endless competitions for top dog. Much of this research has long since been dismissed, and in fact, from observing wolves out in the wild, it turns out many of our assumptions were incorrect in the first place.
The concept of top dogs, of alphas, has remained with us anyway, romanticized and sought after like a kind of urban legend, as if being alpha is the desired goal for any man, everyone wants to be him and women desire him.
It’s a tragedy, we’re living in a culture that has eradicated so many healthy concepts of masculinity, and combined with the culture that has created a whole lot of absent fathers or abusive and distant fathers, we’ve just created a real mess. To make matters worse, we’ve so convoluted power and authority and entwined it with abuse, that our whole structure has become incoherent.
In an ideal situation people would grow up with two healthy, functioning adults, the masculine and feminine working in harmony together, and those examples become incorporated into ourselves, they represent aspects of who we are, the balance between the heart and the head, the rational and emotional, the merciful and the steadfast. We learn to create balance and harmony in our own lives, beautiful paradoxes and contradictions, rather than half-starved extremes.
Lacking one aspect or another, hungry, we tend to go seek it out. You see this in teen boys joining gangs, seeking the masculine, a sense of belonging, but having absolutely no idea what it is even supposed to look like. So drive by shootings, Lord of the Flies, and we’re right back to thinking ourselves to be wolves again. We now see girls doing this too, all bluster and bravado, machismo, seeking the masculine themselves by imitating the boys ….who think they are wolves.
These issues have impacted our faith too, our ability to conceive of God as the Father, and it’s created huge stumbling blocks, challenges as we try to perceive God, God already being so much bigger than our brains in the first place, but now we are often lacking even the heart that would know Him, that would begin understand Him on a biological level if nothing else. In a healthy, child like faith, we would simply recognize God as Daddy and run towards Him, but alas, emotionally some of us have no idea who Daddy even is, and what little we think we know, we don’t like very much.
I see these extremes play out in non believers and in Christians, as we wrestle with what I like to call Holy harmony, the perfection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is that beautiful blend of mercy, grace, and the law, but also of power and authority, of strength and sacrifice. Sadly as we flip from one extreme to the other we tend to create these caricatures, so we have Jesus in some minds as a kind of metroseuxal, a passive, somewhat feminized guru preaching nothing but peace, love, and patchouli. Or the other extreme, in our minds God is perceived as alpha, as the wrathful, unmerciful, powerful God of the old testament. Domination and destruction, power and hierarchies.
Rather than seeing the whole, full nature of Jesus Christ as Holy harmony and perfection, we tend to get into these great debates about grace versus the law, about mercy versus authority, about the old testament and the new, as if none of these things can possibly exist in harmony with one another.
When that happens our faith is out of balance, out of whack. God as alpha tends to downplay mercy, grace, forgiveness, servanthood, seeking Jesus Christ more as a way of aligning ourselves with status, power. In many ways, God as only alpha misses the entire message of the gospel because how we judge, we too shall be judged. Unable to even recognize the mercy of Christ, we become unable to receive it ourselves.
Jesus Christ as our always loving, never judgmental, metrosexual however, becomes a God with no power and authority. Fear of God is an unpleasant thing indeed, but that is also where His power resides, the power and authority to protect us, the power and authority to move mountains for us, the power and authority to heal us and to save us. To not see the power and authority of God is to not really trust in Him.
I’ve wrestled with some of these issues most of my life, and by wrestle I mean what a fabulous pillow fight, a journey, a delightful treasure hunt. Truly, there is nothing more satisfying, nothing our souls desire more than to draw closer to our Creator, to build intimacy with Jesus Christ, to be in hot pursuit of knowing God.
I have a memory from long ago, a kid trying to break into our house, and being a small town we had a good idea who it was, so rather than fear, I was consumed by regret, sadness, a desire for mercy. My husband who is a real teddy bear, gentle to his family, was simply going to go out and throw the kid off the deck. And so proceeded a somewhat comical discussion where I plead that hubby be merciful in his cruelty, gentle with his power, forgiving with his judgements. Don’t hurt him, just delicately explain to him that breaking into houses and stealing stuff is not okay. My hubby quite rightfully looked at me as if I were nuts, as if to say “She sure doesn’t ask much does she?” Please, go kill the guy, protect us all…..just be sure to do it with great mercy and love.
In the end, he decided that perhaps I should just go take care of it myself since throwing someone off the deck with great mercy and love was beyond his comprehension.
It’s an amusing memory because there we are in the midst of a break in having a marital argument, neither one of us thinking to call the cops, simply too busy debating the finer edges of morality. That conversation however, did open my eyes up to some truths I had not seen before and in the process of arguing and turning on the lights, the kid fled.