Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Advent: Why I Can't Let Go... Even When I Want To
If I can point to the reason why - today - I still call myself a Christian is because of the Incarnation. I mean no disrespect to the crucifixion or resurrection. I have no desire to diminish their significance in cosmic history, human history, nor my own history. I can simply say that right now the reason I consider Christianity worth my life and devotion is because of the answer we give to the question, "Who is God?"
Many individuals, cultures, world religions, spiritual traditions, religious sects, etc. have their own unique way of answering that question. Some of those answers I find laughable, some inspiring, a few despicable, some compelling, a handful truly confusing. But there is one answer to that question that grips me in a place too profound to define. There is one answer that keeps me hanging on when every other piece of evidence - or lack thereof - demands that I let go and walk away. And this answer keeps me hanging on NOT because it is so reasonable, so verifiably provable, so perfectly suited to what I need. This answer holds on to my life when I no longer want to hold on because it is so ridiculous, so profane, so completely other to what I want or would create on my own.
The answer to "Who is God?" that has so beautifully damaged my imagination and wondrously imprisoned my soul is that God is the One who implanted Himself into the woman of a Jewish, teenage peasant to make His arrival through a slimy, fragile human birth.
God is the One who asked the blasphemous mouths of His creatures to teach Him how to talk.
God is the One who asked the wandering, faithless feet of His creatures to teach Him how to walk.
Who is God?
God is not some unknowable, mystical, ethereal, spiritual, incorporeal, shapeless Supreme Being above the clouds. God is one of us. God is the One who became a human being.
God entered into the madness, chaos, and sheer meaninglessness of human life with us.
"For in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form." (Col 2:9)
And... this foolish project is the very way He plans on redeeming the sewage ditch that is humanity.
It is my hope that this Advent season we confront Jesus in ways that make us feel like we have never met Him before. It is my hope that this Advent season we meet Jesus in ways that make us realize we have no idea who He is. It is my hope this Advent season we encounter Jesus in ways that offend our sensibilities, crush our dreams, and rip apart our imaginations.
Because it is only a God like that who is worth our devotion. Any God that makes sense, that retains all power, that acts in perfectly acceptable godlike ways is not worth holding on to. It might be worth fearing or worshipping or serving or sacrificing to in order to keep oneself protected and blessed. But the God of Advent, of Incarnation is worth so much more.
Let's remember that the feeding trough in which Infant God was placed was but the first of many things that should offend us.
Let me start by listing all the rumors that I've heard about Jesus, which are the reasons why I simultaneously don't like Jesus and am compelled to follow Him wherever He takes me:
Jesus spat on religious tradition
Jesus undermined God's laws
Jesus partied with the law breakers and cheaters
Jesus was an iconoclast
Jesus was a socialist
Jesus excused sin
Jesus was a drunk
Jesus was a lazy, unemployed mooch
Jesus hated the productive, wealthy, hard-working citizens
Jesus was inappropriate at best with women and flat out sinful at worst
Jesus was a homeless vagabond
Jesus channeled demonic forces
Jesus refused to condemn the God-mocking members of government that rejected God's laws
Jesus undermined the family
Jesus dodged questions, refusing to state clearly what he believed
Jesus teaches impossible things
Jesus doesn't want believers, he wants followers