We Christians didn’t always celebrate Christmas. Jesus’s resurrections provides more hope for us than his birth. Only two of the gospels even depict his birth while all four depict his resurrection. Though we have always focused on the end of his life, the beginning become important as well. The resurrection would have no meaning were it not for the birth, right? While we should look to new life with joy and celebration, the incarnation of God may be what America needs more.
What is incarnation? Incarnation is as a person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit, or abstract quality. Christians believe Jesus was both one hundred percent God and one hundred percent human. Don’t ask me to explain how that works. That’s sort of the point. The more we understand the mystery of God, the less we seem to care. Sometimes mystery perks the heart.
Jesus was God. But being the incarnation for Jesus was more than having vast amounts of power. He didn’t sit in some temple demanding worshipers bring sacrifices to him. He was much like we are. He cried as a baby, did chores as a teenager, helped his mom around the house and learned his father’s trade. He even got dust on his feet walking from place to place. The incarnation of God was like you and me.
In fact, most of Jesus’s ministry was on the road. Though he spent time in synagogues, most of his encounters were out on the dusty highways. He could have sat and demanded service; instead, Jesus met people where they were. If the church is to reflect the Incarnation, we must be willing to get dirty.
See the thing is, we couldn’t become like God, so he became one of us. He taught us peace instead of war, love instead of hate, healing instead of pain. And we nailed him to a tree. But when we buried him, he rose up. God gave us life out of death.
In becoming one of us, he dwelt among us. Imagine that: God at our finger tips. All those times I’ve screamed at him to show himself. If only I’d been born two thousand years ago, I might have touched him.
I sometimes get angry at God for not being more obvious. As my society begins losing it’s faith, I wish God would make himself more obvious. When I throw up my hands in frustrated defeat, he reminds me that he’s already done this. He showed up two thousand years ago. Turns out, being incarnate means dying like us, too.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
But he didn’t leave us with nothing. A year after his death and resurrection, God yet again became incarnate. The first incarnation became human; the second dwelt in humans. We call this the Holy Spirit. Because of it, we get to be the incarnation of Jesus in the world.
Being Christian is not practicing some archaic religion. It’s not about the creation of some temple we visit to offer our sacrifices. Christians do find comfort in our houses of worship, but we aren’t meant to stay there. Being the incarnation means getting our feet dirty.
We are the incarnation of God. When you become a Christian, it’s not to join some club. It’s not about becoming sinless or being moral. Becoming a Christian is becoming him. We exist to bring light and hope to this world. He became human that we may see God. We get to be the incarnation so that others may see his him, too.