I understand why people have a problem with the incarnation.
Here is The Almighty Creator, vulnerable as a baby.
Here is The Great I Am, needing a diaper change.
Yahweh himself learning obedience, being submissive as a teenager and working a 9-5 in the wood-shop.
God… growing to be a humble, kind, tender, willing to die for scumbags… man.
In this age of power and superiority, of wanting more than we need, of trying to get to thrones instead of leaving them, God The Baby Is The God We Need.
And Incarnation is our invitation.
“God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus.We have not always known what God is like— But now we do.” – Brian Zahnd
Yes, we thought God would be more powerful, more dominant, hungrier to prove Himself. But then Jesus came and he was more concern with healing the sick, and feeding the poor and befriending the worst.
When people thought lepers where being punish by God, God came around and touched them. Healed them. Loved them.
When people thought celebrities were the right people for God to use, God came around and chose fishermen, and tax collectors and prostitutes. He trained them. He believed in them. And he showed them a superior Kingdom.
When people thought that God was angry and disappointed with humanity, God became a human baby. Lived a human life. Died a human death. And kept his human body.
God showed up and forgave the sins that shouldn’t be forgiven. He loved the unlovables just as much as he loved children. Instead of destroying the Romans he ended up healing their servants. And he denied the temptation of using Caesar’s power to change the world.
Instead of being like we wanted him to be, he was less religious, less of a war-monger, less sectarian, less like me.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
One time I was in a maximum security prison, and I told a bunch of criminals in that prison, that God would forgive them, even if they had sexually abused their daughters.
I didn’t want to say that God would do that because I didn’t think God should do that. But he had forgiven them already at the cross. And I was 2,000 years too late to stop him.
When I said that statement out loud, the prisoners believed it, and everything changed.
It’s great when I agree with God. Sometimes, it’s life changing when I don’t.
Seriously, in the deepest part of me, I want God to hate the people I hate. I want him to be OK with the sins I don’t consider a big deal. I want God to vote like me, sound like me and go to the church I’m in. And I want God to be more latino.
NT Wright explained it like this: “This is the really scary thing… not that Jesus might be identified with a remote, lofty, imaginary being, but that God, the real God, the one true God, might actually look like Jesus… a shrewd Palestinian Jewish villager who drank wine with his friends, agonized over the plight of his people, taught in strange stories and pungent aphorisms, and was executed by the occupying forces. To say that Jesus is in some sense God is of course to make a startling statement about Jesus. It is also to make a stupendous claim about God.”
There are a lot of things I love about God. But there are also a lot of things I find very difficult to embrace, e.g. put the other cheek, forgive 70×7, wash people’s feet, heal the sick and so on.
They are not difficult to embrace because I don’t believe in them (I kind of have to because I’m a pastor and he said them) it’s more like I am terrible at them.
I have a problem with this version of God.
But Jesus is the only legitimate version there is.
So what I truly have is a problem with me.
God will not change.
I guess I’ll have to.
I guess, we’ll have to.
The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.
++ We also recommend: The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology by Jurgen Moltmann
Teaching The Gospel In Chairs: