I’m a carnivore and proud to admit it. If I get to choose a last meal, it’s going to be steak. I will occasionally order a salad, but it will be a salad with lots of meat on it!
Once a week, my wife and I have “cheese dip night” – dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. When we sit down, they don’t bring us a menu. They just bring our meal because it is the same thing every week: diet cokes, chips and salsa, a small cheese dip, and tacos carne asada. Steak tacos.
Every year, I make chili for our ministry Christmas party. Of course, what most of us call chili is actually chili con carne – peppers with meat.
This is the time of year when we celebrate the incarnation – the reality of God in the flesh.
God “con carne.” God in the flesh.
Seeing God’s Glory
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9
Christ became a man, the visible image of the invisible God so that we could see his glory. As we read the biographies of Jesus, where do we see His glory? Maybe it is when Jesus knelt beside the woman caught in adultery and said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Or when Jesus put his arm around a leper, both healing and loving him. Or when Jesus went to the homes of Levi and Zaccheus, to demonstrate God’s forgiveness and acceptance.
Jesus’ glory was full of grace and truth. Grace that offered acceptance and forgiveness and entrance into God’s Kingdom. Truth that called to repentance and change and a life that sought first God’s Kingdom and righteousness.
Christmas should be the awe-filled celebration of God in the flesh, His glory in a body, grace and truth lived out among us.
Incarnation as a Way of Life
But the incarnation is not just a piece of theology. It is a practical way for us to live, to manifest God to the world that we live in.
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. I John 2:6
We are to be the physical, personal manifestations of God in our world. We are the Body of Christ. Just as Jesus demonstrated the glory of God to the world through the incarnation of grace and truth, we are called to do the same. We are called to lives of incarnation – filled with the Spirit of God as we reveal grace and truth to our world.
But incarnation is costly. It was for Jesus. It will be for us. We won’t best incarnate grace and truth by just doing church with our friends, who think and act and believe like we do. If we are to demonstrate grace and truth to those who most need to experience them, we are going to have to be willing to lay some things aside. This such as privilege, preferences, comfort, fear, self, reputation.
We will best incarnate the glory of God – His grace and truth – when we engage the world as Jesus did. Incarnation isn’t just theology we celebrate once a year as we remember a baby in a manger. It is a practical way to live and serve others.
Mike Armstrong (@_mikearmstrong_) is in his 32nd year of ministry to college students at the University of Arkansas with Christ on Campus and is a past president of the Association of College Ministries. He has been married to Gina for 34 years and they have two grown and married daughters. He has also been a track and field official for over 20 years and is a fan of classic rock, jazz, and the blues. You can read his blog at michaelarmstrong.net or find him on Facebook at THEMikeArmstrong.