I had a wonderful time yesterday preaching at the First United Methodist Church’s midweek Lenten service. I absolutely love it anytime we can get together as Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, etc. and acknowledge our more lasting identity as brothers and sisters in Christ. Gatherings like the one we had on Wednesday remind me that the family of God is larger than our individual expressions of it. Like any family, we’ve got our family discussions – things on which we don’t necessarily see eye to eye. Some discussions are pretty important, but many are not. In either case, we must remember that having the correct answer to any of the many discussions that separate us into denominations is not what make us a part of the family. John makes clear in his gospel that the Word, that is Jesus, who was with God and was God from the very beginning, became flesh and made his dwelling among us. And all who believe in his name, that is the name of Jesus, God gave the right to become children of God.
What a gift it is to be a part of the family of God! The wonder of that gift grows when we realize that before we could become sons and daughters of God, God Almighty had to first become a son of man. Left to our own efforts, we could not come to God, so God had to come to us. He has identified with us in every way (Hebrews 4:15). While he never himself sinned, he lived as one of us and submitted himself to all of the physical and moral consequences of our fallen humanity. Jesus knows what it’s like to be weary and to be in pain. He knows loneliness and rejection. He knows what it’s like to die. Because he knows, because he has experienced the depths of what it means to be human, he is also the one capable of rescuing us from our despair.
An Orthodox theologian, Kalisto Ware, explains the miracle of Christ’s action this way, “Jesus our Savior bridges the abyss between God and man because he is both at once . . . Who is God? Who am I? To both these questions Jesus Christ gives us the answer.” What does the incarnation say about humanity in general? About you in particular? What does it say about God? It says that God loved us enough that he left the safety and security of the heavens to be a part of our dysfunctional, sinful family called mankind so that we might be a part of his blessed, forgiven clan called the family of God. If you haven’t done so lately, thank God for the love that has made you his son or daughter.
“Because God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21