Incarnation – the most precious gift of all.
Today I am trying to cheer myself for Jesus’ sake. I am feeling lonely and blue, because my children and friends are in a distant country on this Christmas day. But perhaps there is something I can learn from this…
What is Christmas all about, other than the miracle of incarnation? Such extreme holiness condescended to the lowest level, not just for a moment, but to live among those who were hopelessly degraded and perverse, and even to die with them. When we walk in the townships here – see the anger and aggression, the neglect of children, the stench of waste in the streets, the wanton flaunting of sexual behaviors, the raw hunger and poverty, the look of hopeless resignation to a life of misery – this is what Jesus must have seen when he looked from Heaven and made that Immense Decision that changed His-story forever. He didn’t just go and minister in the township (earth), then retreat to the safety of the suburbs (heaven), like me, but he moved in and made it his home. That is incarnation.
So for Christmas this year, instead of sitting around the tree with our most wonderful family of families, giving gifts and singing songs and laughing and eating to our hearts content, we will be sitting with a family in the township who is grieving the sudden death of their 35 year old mother and sister; and we will bring other township friends to dinner at our house. We are not yet the caliber of selfless love as Jesus – but that is our direction and purpose. Jesus, will you give us your heart of love and compassion to find the weakest and most lost and lonely – and to give them the supreme gift of acceptance and identification and understanding! Help me to get beyond myself and just embrace and love them as you would in this moment of grief.
“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He 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. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that – crucifixion.”
Incarnation – what an amazingly simple and difficult and powerful gift.
- Powerful – Radical incarnation releases the power of God in both the giver (Phil 2:9 “for this reason”) and the one who, in gratitude, receives (2 Co 5:21). Jesus was given authority BECAUSE of his obedience to full incarnation. When we empty ourselves and incarnate with the poor, the power of God is catalyzed – on us and them. Read the life of Mother Theresa if you doubt.
- Difficult – Could it be one of Satan’s greatest lies that keeps us from incarnation? – because he instinctively knows the power of God lies concealed in these simple acts of love. What demonic lies are bred in us (Eph 2:2) that cause fear to well up within and squelch any act of sacrificial giving of self to a broken person! What tragedy that Christ-bearers slink away in self-preservation, when it is the very act of self-emptying love that will release the greatness of God (2 Co 4:12) into the situation.
- It is Simple – in that anyone can do it – even a child. In fact children are the best at it. I think all that is required is to hold a hand, look in the eyes, and ask questions so you can understand and carry their load. Is this not the crux?
My goal and my desire is to live filled with the spirit of Jesus to the degree that I will joyfully empty myself for humanity more and more – pouring out my life for the lost and the least. Jesus, will you give me grace to do this every day, for your glory.