The WORD Became Flesh

The WORD became flesh and moved into {our} neighborhood. That’s an exciting thought to consider, isn’t it? To think that God willfully stepped out of His kingdom and came to earth is an amazing thing. He came from a place of perfection that we can only imagine and entered into all of the goriness of life on earth. And in such an odd way. You would think that if God was going to visit earth and experience life as a human He start at a place of honor, born into royalty or wealth or something like that. But no — He forsook all of that, choosing the poverty of a voiceless Jewish family in the midst of imperial occupation. He chose to not even be born in a legitimate setting. Who of us in their right mind would say, Yes! I want to be born next to donkeys and cows and sheep! Lay me in their feeding trough to rest!” What a choice this was.

This makes the words of Paul in Philippians striking:

Jesus existed in the form of God but emptied Himself of this. He took on the form of a slave. He looked just like you and me. He shared in our nature.

This WORD becoming flesh, this God becoming man, this incarnation — it’s not about who He was but about who He was becoming.

Jesus was God throughout His time on earth; if this wasn’t so, we wouldn’t have the cross and complete liberation from the works of evil in the world. What mattered though wasn’t that He was still God but that He became man. This identification is an incredible thing. It’s something I don’t currently fully understand and don’t think I (or anybody for that matter) ever will, fully. We like big words like incarnation and kenosis and theosis and the like to refer to doctrines that attempt to describe at least some of what is going on but I’m pretty sure there will always be something of a mystery surrounding it all.

And it’s well and good to sit and wonder and awe at the mystery of it all; that’s something I readily admit to doing. Recently though an element of sober reality has found itself intermixed in my wonders and awes. The WORD becoming flesh — the WORD emptying Himself of Himself and taking on the form of me, well as I said it’s incredible. It gets sobering now though: This WORD made flesh in inviting me to live as He made me to, has invited me to enter this incarnational kenosis as well: To empty myself of myself and what He has made me, and take on the form of the other.

What does that mean? Forsaking Jesus? No. Jesus emptying Himself of God didn’t mean He was any less God. God didn’t forsake God, so to speak. It does mean stepping outside the bounds of life He’s ushered me into. Jesus chose to leave heaven and enter our muck and mire — theologically speaking: kenosis. Taking up Jesus, we enter into heaven (at least metaphorically speaking; I suppose we could have theological discussion about the technicalities of this) which I find to be a form of Theosis — the filling of ourselves with what Jesus chose to leave. We are called to emulate Jesus though so kenosis must follow. Jesus set that aside, came as a man, called people into what He was (giving glimpses of it all along the way) and loved so much that He chose to die so that we might live.

That kenosis hits home to me now in ways it never did before. Life was comparatively easy back in Oklahoma. It didn’t take much effort to empty myself and become something other because the reality was that the other was more like me than I might care to admit. Now though — it’s something different. Not to long ago I found myself sitting on a wooden bench in a filthy concrete room full of junk that the attached Shebeen (illegitimate bar) didn’t have use for with my wife, teammate and the drunk homeless guy who slept there. He proceeded to spill His guts about all of life, culminating in his desire and plan to hang himself. He drank day in and day out to forget this pain he carried with him everywhere but it was getting to the point where the bottle could no longer numb him to it. Sitting there that day I experience incarnation as I’d never experienced it before. It was in love-driven desire to be somewhere I knew I didn’t belong. There it was, reaching out to someone who had drunk too many 40s to count. It was the willingness to enter his world and feel and understand and see as he did.

In an academic sense, I knew that coming here and living incarnationally would involve wading into deep and dark problems in the lives of people — issues and feelings and thoughts I’d probably never known existed before — but it wasn’t anything more than that academic sense.

And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You see the incarnation produces something incredible. For where kenosis happens theosis is soon to follow. Jesus came as man and presented something more (His kingdom), and many back then, and you and me now, entered and where filled with something more. So to for people like this drunk homeless man who wanted to give up on life in the worst possible way. That day about a month ago was incredibly sober. Today though His story is something different. He’d never had someone tell him that they loved him. And for it to be a white guy from America — that blew his mind. It made him stop and think. And when he found out why (Jesus in me, my wife and teammate) it made him reach out for something more. We did a lot of sharing and a lot of praying with him that afternoon and God filled his heart with a joy and with a peace he had never known before. We came back the next week to find him sober and smiling. The next week he was outside playing soccer with kids. Two weeks ago he excitedly shared of his new job — something he hasn’t had in quite some time. Last week he brought us a friend who had seen his transformation and wanted it in his own life.

This has been long and rambling and probably won’t make much sense to anyone but me; I just needed to get the words down and the thoughts out, to be mulled over and considered further.

June 23, 2015 · incarnation · kenosis · Faith

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