Thursday, December 22

God con Carne, Part 1

 

I’m a carnivore and proud to admit it. If I get to choose a last meal, it’s going to be steak. I will occasionally order a salad, but it will be a salad with lots of meat on it!

 

Once a week, Gina and I have “cheese dip night” – dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. When we sit down, they don’t bring us a menu. They just bring our meal because it is the same thing every week: diet cokes, chips and salsa, a small cheese dip, and tacos carne asada. Steak tacos.

 

Every year, I make chili for our Christmas party. (I only make it once a year because it is too spicy for Gina, but most of our students seem to like it.) Of course, what most of us call chili is actually chili con carne – peppers with meat.

 

This is the time of year when we celebrate the incarnation – the reality of God in the flesh.

 

God “con carne.”

 

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.   Colossians 1:19

 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.   Colossians 2:9

 

Christ is the self-miniaturization of God, the visible image of the invisible God. The omnipresent one was downsized to the confines of a human womb. The all-powerful one became a baby that had to be fed and nursed and burped. The omniscient one had to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.

 

But here was the miracle: when he became human, he was no less God. 100 percent God and 100 percent man. I can’t explain it. I can only marvel at it.

 

In 1995, Joan Osborne recorded a song that asked the question, “What if God was one of us?” Christmas tells us that is exactly what happened.

 

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail the incarnate Deity.

Pleased as man with man to dwell -

Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king!”

 

But it keeps getting better.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.   John 1:1-3, 14, 18

 

When Moses wanted to see the glory of God, the answer was , "No." When Moses begged, God hid him in a corner of a rock. He could only see the aftermath of God passing by. He could only handle a portion of the glory of God.

 

But John tells us that when God became flesh, we could see his glory. When you read through the biographies of Jesus, where do you see his glory? Maybe it is not what we tend to look for. Maybe it is:

 

… when Jesus kneels beside the woman caught in adultery and says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” 

… when Jesus puts his arm around a leper, both healing and loving him. 

… when Jesus goes to the homes of Levi and Zaccheus, ostracized tax collectors, to demonstrate God’s forgiveness and acceptance.

… when Jesus weeps with Mary and Martha over the death of their brother. Or even more when he stands and says, "I am the resurrection and the life … Lazarus, come out." 

 

Jesus' glory was full of grace and truth. Grace and truth. Grace that offered acceptance and forgiveness and entrance into God’s Kingdom. Truth that called to repentance and change and a life that sought first God’s Kingdom and righteousness.

 

Christmas should be the awe-filled celebration of God in the flesh, his glory in a body, grace and truth lived out among us. And alive in us.

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