Those are the wonderful words of Eugene Peterson, translating the wonderful words of John 1:14. For me, they describe the beauty of the incarnation where our God gives of himself by coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. There is a scandal here that, in the incarnation, we have Jesus…who is like God. But, perhaps the bigger scandal is that this shows that we have God…who is like Jesus. So, if we want to know what our God is like and, by default, what we should be like, we only need to look at the person of Jesus. God became one of us so that we can be like God.
Throughout history we have made clear that Jesus Christ didn’t partly “move into the neighborhood.” He wasn’t merely passing through. It wasn’t a “vacation.” He wasn’t “renting property” until a spot opened up in a better section of town. He moved in fully…he abided with us, he resided with us, he lived with us, he became FULLY human. And yet, we know, all along he remained fully God. It is the theology of the hypostatic union that holds together Jesus’ God-ness and Human-ness.
Throughout the last several years I’ve really been focusing on the beauty of the incarnation of Christ, that our God would become fully one of us. There is a sense in Scripture that, God needed to be fully human so that he could fully identify with our suffering and our lives and save us from “the inside.” Hebrews 2:17-18 puts it this way:
For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[n] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (NRSV)
In the incarnation, our God went “All-In.” He didn’t go part-way. There is a sense that, if Christ were half-God or half-human or went into the incarnation half-way, then our salvation would be in question.
Using the incarnation as a model, I have viewed ministry as being fully incarnated into a community of faith and into a larger community. But wait, there’s more!