The Incarnation

Advent begins this year today, on December 2. This is a whole season on the Church Calendar for preparing to celebrate Christ’s “incarnation” (His physical embodiment) on Christmas. And if I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m such a fan of the Incarnation.

Philippians 2:5-11 says in The Message,

“Christ had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human…”

This is one incredible doctrine.

The idea that God — the One we call Transcendent, the One we call the Ultimate Mystery, the One we say is Highest, Holiest, and altogether unlike us — joined Himself with human flesh, forever.

Aside from dying for us on the Cross, how could this God better display His radical humility?

Because of the Incarnation, we see that divinity and humanity are not entirely separate realities. Our human condition — our bodies, our personalities, our full range of emotions… even our weaknesses and limitations — it is not offensive to the Lord. He wears it as His own. He joins us in our suffering, our pain and our finite-ness. He’s chosen to do this on purpose, too.

“Our human condition… is not offensive to God. He wears it as His own.”

What once seemed like a unreachable, unknowable spiritual reality is now as tangible and relatable as any other mortal brother or sister.

Further, we see that the Divine is not an abstract force, an ethereal consciousness, or merely “the ground of all being.” God actually has a face. We can look at His iconic Image and say with so much clarity that He is indeed beautiful.

All of this is because God is eternally personified in Jesus. And we did not come up with this idea… He did!

“God is eternally personified in Jesus.”

In lowering Himself to our level, God destroyed our idolatrous concept of Him being a proud, distant, authoritarian leader sitting on a lofty throne. Instead, He is Immanuel, “God with us.” He has revealed Himself as the kind of Deity who walks and serves and shares in life through our eyes. His strength looks like meekness displayed at full force.

No longer can our Lord be accused of being aloof and unmoved by our situation. He is present and involved. He is a co-participant in our often mundane and difficult existence. He bends to our level, held back by nothing from pursuing connection with our hearts.

Further, in becoming one of us, Christ in a sense dignified and divinized our whole entire race. He showed that to be human is not to be lacking in glory. We look at this Man and see what it is like to be a beloved child of God. He displayed an identity we can all walk in, without first ascending through religious rituals into some higher state. We can all carry the Presence of the Spirit, and at the same time enjoy living a gritty, passionate, fully-embodied human life.

“He displayed an identity we can all walk in, without first ascending through religious rituals into some higher state.”

We are fully accepted and fully understood, right down here where we are. That is, in the totality of our earth-bound experiences. God chooses to make His home in Christ’s flesh and now (through all that Christ accomplished) in ours as well.

This is the Message of Heaven’s reconciliatory peace, favor and good will to all of us (Luke 2:14).

This is why this season is worth celebrating.

Happy Advent everyone. The Lord has come!

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