“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” ~John 1:14 (MSG)
God doesn’t wave a magic wand and cast a spell on the earth to restore it to its original condition. He doesn’t judge the world as beyond salvation and destroy everything. God comes to us. That’s his answer. That’s our God’s strategy. He enters our humanity with us, he puts on our skin and bones and blood, and participates in our problems. Immanuel. God with us. Jesus joins our mess.
This is how God works in the world. He takes on our humanness. He became one of us. The Son of God not only died for our sins as a human, he lived here as a human, too! He got hungry and tired with us. He laughed and cried with us. He bled. He sweated. He experienced joy and pain with us. He got surprised and he got frustrated. He was tempted. He struggled. He was betrayed by his best friends. He had to make hard decisions. He lost loved ones. He became one of us with us. This is God’s strategy.
Entering. Sharing. Engaging. Participating. All in.
That’s very, very different from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. All the other world’s religions worship a god who stays in the heavens, who has removed himself from creation and demands that his people come to him. People are required to find secret knowledge and spiritual codes and work and strive and struggle to get to these gods. But our God comes to us. He comes here to us.
It’s important for us to know that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man. I can’t explain it all, I certainly don’t understand it all. But the Scriptures declare it, the Apostles’ Creed affirms it, and Jesus’ life on earth proves it. He is both God and man. And this is critical to our Christian faith.
If Jesus wasn’t a man, then he didn’t really enter our mess. He came here, yes, but he remained above all the dirt. He didn’t really enter or share or participate in the ugliness of what is our situation. He wasn’t human, he was God! It was easy!
And if Jesus wasn’t God, then he didn’t really sacrifice anything to come to us. He didn’t risk anything. He didn’t really put anything on the line. And it didn’t really make an eternal difference. It didn’t matter in the long run. He wasn’t God, he was human! He was born here, he didn’t have a choice. And then he died. It was unfortunate, that’s all.
Jesus the Messiah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Creator and Lord of Heaven and Earth, equal with God the Father from before the beginning of time, left his home in glory and put on our skin and bones in order to enter our mess. He entered your mess. He did. Jesus Christ entered your situation, he shared in your experiences, he carried all your burdens, he participated in your problems. He got very intimately involved in your situation at a tremendous personal cost. That’s the Gospel! Praise God!
Christ Jesus put on our flesh and lived with us. He entered the fray. And so we disciples of Christ today enter the fray with our money and time and resources and energy and talents and houses and everything we’ve got. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians shine light into darkness, we bring life out of death. We join in the problems. We jump into the ugliness. That’s why so many hospitals are named Methodist and Presbyterian and Baptist-St. Anthony’s — because Christians have been entering the mess and sharing and carrying and engaging and participating since that very first Easter Sunday.
It’s obvious that this is the way of our Lord. God’s Church is not called to just hang on until the uncleanness is destroyed. We’re not called to just pray about the mess so God can take care of it. And we surely don’t lock ourselves up in a gated monastery and ignore the problems. We enter it. We engage it. Heaven and earth, God and humans, present together in the redemption and restoration of the world.