During this Sunday’s Celebration & Growth (10/4/08) we’ll be focusing on John 1:6-18.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'”
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (New Living Translation)
Some time ago Joan Osborn wrote a song called “What If God Was One Of Us.” The song got a fair amount of airplay in its day and while the lyrics aren’t great the idea of God living among his creation is truly remarkable. Often we have an idealized view of Jesus, a view perhaps perpetuated by pictures and movies where He appears as a “perfect” 6’3″ blond-haired, blue-eyed physical specimen wearing blinding white garments fastened by a powder blue sash. While this plays well in Hollywood it’s probably not very accurate. In fact, Isaiah 53:2 describes Christ with the following language “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.”
Many of us are familiar with the term Incarnation. This is a term theologians use to describe Jesus God becoming a human being. Theologians also use another term to describe Christ willingly putting aside his glory and His divine privileges. The term they use is Humiliation. Imagine… the humiliation of the Creator of the universe. In The Message Eugene Peterson puts it this way:
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—a crucifixion. (Phil. 2:6-8)
What does mean for us today? It means we have a God that has truly shared in the gamut of human experience. It means we have a God who has felt joy and pain, laughter and tears, a God who knows your fears and heartaches, your shame and doubt. And whatever your joy today, whatever your struggle, He understands. He’s been there.
I found this great quote by Frederick Buechner:
“We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof that we tend to want–scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all–would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all. For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle that we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.” 1
What an amazing God!
1. Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat (New York: HarperCollins, 1966), 47.