The Incarnation’s Invitation

In Advent, we celebrate the unfathomable commingling of the divine and the material, the immortal and the mundane. These are the weeks where we meditate on God’s coming to be with us, as one of us.

But the whole thing is ridiculous!

God, the Creator of everything, who made everything by speaking it into existence (Genesis 1); God, who isn’t a kind of being, he is being itself (Exodus 3:14); God, whose presence everywhere is more accurately understood as being beyond the confines of location—the Incarnation is this God becoming one of us.

It’s completely ridiculous! And completely true!

Certainly, the Incarnation demonstrates the magnitude of God’s love for us. But even more so, it reveals how thoroughly intimate God’s love for us is. God desired such complete communion with us that he became one of us in all the fullness of our humanity. God wanted so much to marry himself to his creation that he made himself so vulnerable he’d have to learn to lift his head. God submitted himself so completely to the human condition that he suffered death and was buried. All for the purposes of winning us back to himself.

Our only fitting response to this great love and power is complete surrender; we must come to God with open hands receiving whatever God gives us and letting go of whatever God takes from us.

The Incarnation demonstrates the magnitude of God’s love for us. But even more so, it reveals how thoroughly intimate God’s love for us is. …Our only fitting response to this great love and power is complete surrender; we must come to God with open hands receiving whatever God gives us and letting go of whatever God takes from us.

It’s easy for me to understand the goodness of receiving from our good God who is, after all, the source of all good gifts (James 1:17). And even though I often want to hang onto those things which keep me from God, I can at least understand how letting go of bad things is a good idea.

But if my hands are to be truly open, there’s another part of surrender I find especially difficult. In order to be completely surrendered to God, I must be ready for God to refrain from giving me the good things I ask for. Likewise, I must be willing to carry the brokenness within me and in my world which I so wish he would mend. God is God, and I am not. And this means my hands must be open unconditionally; I cannot presume to dictate the terms of my surrender.

Who am I to ask God to remove the thing he would use to bring him glory? Who am I to say God can’t make his power known through my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)? Would my pride prevent me from full participation in God’s glorious purposes? God will work his purposes in the world (and in my life) in his own way and in his own timing. Our hands cannot be fully open until they embrace this uncertainty.

The only appropriate response to God’s love may be complete surrender, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Complete surrender—even to our loving, powerful, and good God—is hard! It’s hard because this kind of surrender doesn’t come with any guarantees. This kind of surrender demands that we trust a God whose ways are higher than our ways and whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). This kind of surrender leaves us with only the assurance of God’s character. It is no small grace, then, that the Incarnation also provides us with the strength we need for the surrender it demands.

Here’s what I mean: The Incarnation—in addition to revealing God’s great love and power—also shows us that God delights in working through the everyday, “mundane” aspects of our existence. Jesus was one man, at one time, living and moving in one small region of the world, working closely with only a few people. In the particular, singular individual of Jesus, the fullness of God dwells. This one person—Jesus—is the invisible God made visible (Colossians 1:15-20).

And this individual healed other individuals in individual ways:

  • For one blind man, Jesus spits in some dirt and rubs it on his eyes (John 9:1-7).
  • With a different blind man, Jesus spits directly in his eyes in a healing that comes in two doses (Mark 8:22-25).
  • Jesus heals another blind man with a simple pronouncement, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” (Luke 18:35-43).

God works through the mundane stuff of our lives—not in spite of it. God wants to use the very stuff of our lives to reveal his glory, to reveal his love and his power. And because this is how God works, we can be confident in surrendering every last detail of our lives to him.

God works through the mundane stuff of our lives—not in spite of it. God wants to use the very stuff of our lives to reveal his glory, to reveal his love and his power. And because this is how God works, we can be confident in surrendering every last detail of our lives to him.

What are you holding onto that God is calling you to let go of? In what ways are you closed to what God wants to give? We need not be afraid of the stuff of our lives: the things in our hands, or the things we wish were in them. We need only offer our particulars to God and wait in surrender to see what ridiculous things he does with them.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

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