Monday, January 11, 2010

God Dwelt Among Us

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory. Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:1,14

The account of the baby in the manger evokes warm fuzzy feelings. I can picture in my mind the starry night, the angels singing, and the shepherds coming to worship the newborn king. Though they came by faith to worship Him, they found what appeared to be a very ordinary baby. He had no halo of light surrounding His tiny head as Christmas cards often portray. They came because they believed God’s promises and were expecting a King. At Christmas it is so easy to get wrapped up in traditions and enjoy the warm fuzzy manger story and lose sight of the significance of Jesus’ birth and all of its significance.

The above verses are about the significance of His birth. They talk of the incarnation of God, which means God came into the world and took on the flesh of a vulnerable human being. He was born to a woman not much different than us. He had to learn to walk, talk, sing, read, and write and worked as an apprentice in His step-father’s shop. He experienced hunger, thirst, exhaustion, concern, and ambivalence. He faced the uncertainties and struggles that characterize our lives as we live in a fallen world.

Jesus grew up with imperfect parents and had imperfect siblings who at times accused Him of being crazy. He suffered the sting of rejection. He knew what it felt like to be misunderstood. He dealt with the frustration of entrapment as people tried to manipulate Him to say things they wanted Him to say. He had people question the goodness of His character. He had imperfect friends who promised to stick to Him like glue until the end. Yet, they soon fell asleep when He needed their prayers the most. All but one scattered like scared sheep when He was arrested. The one who remained watched from afar and denied his relationship with the One who had called him friend, not just once but three times.

It’s hard to believe God, Himself, was victimized when He came to earth by prejudice, injustice, hatred, and rejection. Yet, He was. He suffered a horrible death on the cross. He felt deserted as the weight of my sin and yours was placed on Him. He understands what it feels like to have God the Father so near, and yet feel so far away. He came as a man to suffer for us. As a man, He even understood what it feels like to be limited, because He set aside His infinite glory to live on earth and rub shoulders with people like you and me. And the God-man’s pain had an early start as people sought to kill Him while He was still a baby. It lasted until the day that He died.

His incarnation tells us some important things.

It tells us God is not a distant God who set this world in motion and then stepped back to watch it from a far. That means a lot when we struggle with the painful events we do not understand.

It tells us He is not aloof from the ambivalence He experienced like we are when we are faced with temptation to do life our own way.

It tells us He understand the fear we feel in facing our struggle with pride and self-sufficiency to learn to depend on Him when we find the journey to which He has called us difficult.

His incarnation also tells us He has experienced every emotion we have felt, including the pain too deep for words expressed by silent screams and the joy so intense skin erupts in goose bumps and tears stream down cheeks.

He understands loneliness we feel during transitions in life as well as the need to get away and be alone.

He understands the fear we feel of letting go of crutches to which we cling as we wrestle with the truth that we are truly safe resting in His grip.

He understands the sorrow we feel as we grieve the losses of loved ones, of dreams, and of broken relationships as He carries the sorrow of the whole world on His back.

Most importantly the incarnation tells us that the painful things we experience are not just a bunch of random events, they are a part of a beautiful redemption story being penned by His own hand.

The incarnation tells us there was never a time He wasn’t present. There was never a time we weren't loved unconditionally, irrevocably, and passionately.

As we think about the night the Christ Child was born, let's not forget it was the night the Mighty God, the Wonderful Counselor, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace came down and clothed Himself in humanity that we might know Him, know His power, experience His love, and be filled with His everlasting peace.

Prayer: Father, I envy the shepherds who witnessed the angel choir and then bowed before the newborn King. Thank you so much for sending your Son to earth. To be honest, I have trouble wrapping my mind around the incarnation. How Christ could be both God and Man is incomprehensible, yet the significance of it is staggering. Thank you for telling us in your word that Christ is a faithful high priest and that we can come boldly to Him and He responds to us as a sympathetic priest who understands even the feelings of our infirmities. You are Sovereign and You are Holy. You are good in all your ways. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!