Dear Ones in Christ,
What does the incarnation mean to you? We celebrate it in our churches, deny it in the secular “shadow celebration” of who-knows-what during the “holidays,” and capitalize on it through commercial enterprise. But, what does it mean - to you, specifically? The answer has less to do with your observance of the fact of Christ’s birth and more to do with what that fact means in your day to day life. I have to confess both a loathing and a fondness for the season. The first because of the commercialism, the insipid sentimentality that accompanies it and the outright denial of its true meaning. Like a truly great film that has its best parts excised by the editors, the season in our culture lacks the message it ought to have. So, what does the incarnation mean to you?
In Heb 2:14-18 we are told that because we have flesh and blood, He (Jesus) too shared in our humanity. He came as God-in-flesh. He came to identify with us in our brokenness and take our place in judgment. As fully God and fully man He joined us to save us. You can see the results stated in many places, perhaps most clearly in Rom 5:12-21 where the results of the fall coming to us through Adam are contrasted with the results of redemption coming to us through Christ. Instead of death, life through the gift of God’s grace that came through Jesus; instead of judgment and condemnation through Adam, we have justification in Christ; instead of death reigning because through Adam we all became sinners, now we who have received God’s gift of righteousness through Christ reign in life through the One who became one of us! We have passed from condemnation into justification and from death to life. And not only do we as believers in Christ have this confidence but we also have this message to proclaim to those who have still either not heard or believed.
This isn’t a theoretical knowledge, it demands a response! The Holy Spirit tells us through the apostle Paul , “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor 5:14-15). Jesus’ identification with humanity and saving work require a response from His people. To apply this mean that we seek to love God and our neighbor (Rom 13:8-10). It means to share our faith (1 Pet 3:15), it means to think of others first (Phil 2:1-11).
So in closing I want to ask of myself and of you, how will we live this out right now?
What can we do not just during a “special season” but in daily life to apply the reality of the incarnation of Jesus? How can we better make Him known to those around us by our witness and by our life priorities? Merry Christmas!