God’s Love is the Incarnation: Why Christians Celebrate this Season

It is so easy to get caught up in the fast paced materialistic trappings of pagan/secular Christmas rituals; it is all around. But as Christians we are content with a slower pace, a redemptive rhythm that is contingent not upon might, nor marybabypower, but upon the quiet moving of the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ. As Christians during this season, in a heightened way, we focus our attention on what God in Christ has done; how he has broken into these flesh and blood bodies we inhabit, and brought God and humanity together in the hypostatic union of his singular life in the eternal Logos, the Christ. In other words, during this Christmas season, in intensive ways, Christians are essentially celebrating God’s big grace for us as he has forever reached into our lives, and brought us into his Triune life of ineffable proportion. As Christians, this season, we are rejoicing in the reality that we have come to embrace, that apart from God’s incarnation in Christ we would be like wandering stars for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever; we are rejoicing because we have come to rest in the fact that God is love—the incarnation says so. As Christians this Christmas we are reposing in the reality that the incarnation signals the death of all religions that attempt to reach up to God; that the incarnation demonstrates the once and for all reality that only God could bridge such a gap; that without God in Christ humanity would remain forever grasping at the unattainable. We are full of hope this Christmas season as we rest in the unshakable reality that the incarnation of God has signaled to the world; a world moving so fast it can’t stop long enough to contemplate such depths. But Christians aren’t of this world, not this Christmas season, or any season; we are of a different order, the order that recognizes what God did for humanity in the incarnation, what humanity of its own resource could never even imagine doing for itself. Thomas Torrance articulates the depth dimension of what we are celebrating this Christmas, this way:

If this mystery, the unity of God and man in Jesus Christ is God’s own act, then, ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’. The very fact that it takes God almighty – and even he at such desperate cost – to join God and man in Jesus Christ, tells us in unmistakable language that this is not what we can do. We cannot join God and man together. We are unable to bridge the gap between God and man, nor can we ascend up to heaven and bring God down from there. But it is here face to face with the incarnation in space and time, the union of God and humanity in Christ, that we learn properly for the first time. Only when we see this union actualised in Jesus Christ do we know that we could never join man and God together.

Here is an act of pure grace, the stupendous and absolutely free act of God almighty, and it carries with it the irresistible inference that what God has done here for us, we cannot do for ourselves. In fact the incarnation tells us plainly that all our efforts  to go from humanity to God are useless and false – all our efforts to join man to God are judged and disqualified, and by this fait accompli in Jesus Christ they are completely set aside and revealed to be utterly wrong. God has done the impossible, the incredible thing in Jesus Christ, but it is only now that he has done it that we see how utterly impossible it actually is, impossible for us to accomplish from the side of humanity.[1]

This Christmas season we Christians are celebrating what God has done for us in Jesus Christ by bringing God and humanity together in the singular person, Jesus Christ. There is so much depth and reality to this season on the Christian calendar; one that this fast paced world runs right by. Just as baby Jesus was born in a dusty little stable, unbeknownst to the mighty Roman Empire all around; so too, today, that reality remains unchanged. People, sadly, don’t realize just how fully charged this world is with the glory of God come in the babe and finally the man from Nazareth.

The incarnation, and our celebration of it as Christians is a multifaceted thing; one tinged with the soberness of all that has been accomplished for us in Christ, but also one laced with the reality that people all around remain aloof to this truly unparalleled reality of God become man; not in abstraction, but for them, for us. This Christmas season, if nothing else, is really about the evangel that God loved us first that we might love him. amen.

[1] Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2008), 9-10.

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