"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." - John 1:1As part of my personal Advent celebration, I've been daily reading a chapter from "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus," a compilation of Advent readings, edited by Nancy Guthrie.
This quote from the second chapter immediately grabbed my attention, "When a person makes his home among people, he moves in with them. He identifies with them. The incarnation is the moving in of the eternal Word so that he utterly identifies with us in every way. He took the whole nature of a human being, fully and totally identifying with all it means for us to be human..." What first struck me was how amazing and how counter-intuitive the incarnation is! Jesus is God, and He left His throne in heaven to become a human, humbling himself not only to man's body, but to a helpless baby's body, so that He could identify completely with us. He chose to live a complete human life, from birth to childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Jesus experienced everything we experience! And, He came for us, to save us!
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." - John 1: 10-13He lived a human life, in order to reveal Himself and His truth to us. He lived a perfect life, so that His righteousness could be imputed to us. He died for us so that our sin's penalty would be paid and we could be saved. He conquered death, revealing His glory and giving us hope of eternity with Him. God became man to give us the right to become His children, to His glory.
"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14
This is the Christmas message. It's so much bigger than a sweet baby boy born in a stable (and so, so much bigger than I can write in this post)! The truth of the incarnation is incredible, and provides such an important springboard for talking about the gospel. And, that's why we are where are, doing what we are doing, right? To quote the book I am reading again, "When a person makes his home among people, he moves in with them. He identifies with them." The author was talking about God becoming flesh, but it struck me that that sentence describes missionaries, too! We move to a foreign place and work to make a home among a new people. We work to identify with them. We live among them in order to reveal the truth of the gospel to them, to God's glory. While this change and adjustment is so tiny compared to Jesus', it was very special to me to identify with Christ in this small way.
I pray that this Christmas, we can stay focused on the true awesomeness of the incarnation. I pray that as we decorate for Christmas, plan our Christmas programs and events, and celebrate with our families and communities, that we will keep in the forefront of our thoughts our purpose for being where we are - to live among the precious people God has called us to, so that they may know Him and worship Him. I'm praying for opportunities to share this message with those who have not heard it, who do not believe it.
"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known." - John 1:16-18
How have been encouraged spiritually so far this Christmas season? How can we pray for your heart this month?