Not Content to Be God

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For your sake God was not content
to be God but willed to become man;
for you He emptied Himself that
you may be exalted.

–Karl Barth

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Published in: on 12/22/2016 at 21:53  Leave a Comment  
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Deity Downsized

jesus-in-the-mangerA lowly Babe lies in the lowly cradle of a lowly town, the offspring of a lowly mother. Look again. That child is the eternal “I AM.” He whose Deity never had birth, is born “the woman’s Seed.” He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. He, who never began to be, as God, here begins to be, as man. And can it be, that the great “I AM THAT I AM” shrinks into our flesh, and is little upon our earth, as one newborn of yesterday? It is so. The Lord promised it. Prophets foretold it. Types prefigured it. An angel announces it. Heaven rings with rapture at it. Faith sees it. The redeemed rejoice in it.

–Henry Law

The Weakness of the Almighty

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He was created of
a mother whom He created.
He was carried by hands that He formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy,
He, the Word, without whom all
human eloquence is mute.

–St. Augustine

Published in: on 12/16/2016 at 21:35  Leave a Comment  
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The Scandalous God

manger-baby-copy-2The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.
         –Frederick Buechner

The Descent of God

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He has entered our flesh,
our frailty, our failures.
You don’t have to lift
yourself an inch.
He’s come all the way down.

–Glen Scrivener

Published in: on 12/14/2016 at 9:30  Leave a Comment  
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Sublime Paradox

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The Self-Existent comes into being,
the Uncreated is created,
that which cannot be contained
is contained.

–Gregory of Nazianzus

The Unscripted God

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In the place least expected,
in the way least expected,
under conditions least expected,
God shows up.

Unpredictable, unimaginable,
incomprehensible.
Divinity and humanity
in one bundle.

Splendor in a stable
Divinity in diapers
Majesty in a manger
This is our God.

The Central Miracle

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The central miracle asserted
by Christians is the Incarnation.
They say that God became Man.

–C. S. Lewis

Goodness Came Among Us

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If, so to say,
the Idea of the Good
has actually entered
the room and spoken,
we have to stop
our former discussion
and listen.

–Lesslie Newbigin

When Holiness Came Down

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THE BIGGEST AND MOST DECISIVE EVENT that has ever happened or can happen on this planet took place. The Incarnate Creator visited our world—and we rightly sing: “O, Holy Night.” His entrance into time made that night, and in a sense every night, holy. His incursion into the human race underscores the sacredness of every human life. His presence in our world turned a stable into a holy place, and since He walked the soil and breathed the air of our planet, it too has become a holy place. He labored as a carpenter, making work a holy vocation. He finally died on a cross—and transformed that instrument of the curse into something holy.

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When He comes into our lives He fulfills the original design that we should be holy and without blame before Him. And when He finishes doing what He is going to do all things in heaven and earth will be reconciled to God and goodness. He will make every molecule in the universe vibrate in delightful harmony with his holiness. In Christ all things return to wholeness and happiness.

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This is cosmic news—the Good News that will make every planet, every cell, every thing dance with joy at the wonder of it.

Holy moly.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

A Terrible Force

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Loving humility is a terrible force:
it is the strongest of all things,
and there is nothing else like it.

–Fydor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamazov

Within our grasp

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Invisible in His own nature
[God] became visible in ours.
Beyond our grasp,
He chose to come within our grasp.

–Leo the Great

Holy ground

Following Jesus
Incarnation means
that all ground is
holy ground because
God not only made it
but walked on it, ate
and slept and worked
and died on it.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 12/11/2015 at 21:09  Leave a Comment  
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Not a code or an idea

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If the Word had become printer’s ink, it would have become a code. If the Word had become an idea, it would have been a philosophy. But the Word became flesh and therefore became a gospel—good news.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Way to Power and Poise

When God was made like man

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‘Twas much, that man
was made like God before,
But, that God should be made
like man, much more.

–Dr. John Donne,
Holy Sonnets (no. XV)

Image: http://www.gerrit-van-honthorst.org/

The coming of God

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We cannot take a step
toward the heavens.
God crosses the universe
and comes to us.

–Simone Weil

Redemptively invaded

earth 22 copy 2The Gospel is not an academic discussion of truth—a set of doctrines about life, but an interpretation of “things” (Lk. 1:1) . . . Some “things” had happened on this earth that had never happened before—our planet has been invaded by God—redemptively invaded. That is the biggest and most decisive “thing” that has ever happened or can happen on this planet. . . .

This is cosmic news—the Good News, that will make every planet, every cell, every thing dance with joy at the wonder of it.

Of all the things that have happened, or could happen this is the thing . . . the Central Cosmic Fact: God appeared on a little planet to take us by the hand and put us back on the Way. This is news—Good News—comparatively speaking, the only Good News that ever reached our planet.

-–E. Stanley Jones

The power of weakness

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The omnipotence of God

is shown in the fact
that he can assume
the form of human
impotence and
can triumph
in this form.

–Karl Barth

 

What makes God glorious?

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“Glory” is a timeworn, many-sided, vaguely understood term of rich significance. Most importantly it has to do with God, the source and sum of it. Glory is what inspires wonder and admiration. It is manifested excellence, the outward display of beauty and goodness, the visible demonstration of greatness.

The glory of God is when
God lets us see what He’s like.

It’s when His wonderfulness goes public, His awesomeness comes into view, His splendor is sighted.

We observe the glory of God in creation—an awe-inspiring, but limited view. We get a close-up view when we contemplate Jesus, the human life of God. The knowledge of the glory of God is seen partially in nature, but fully in the face of Jesus Christ.

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Great are the mysteries of creation. Greater still is the mystery of godliness, when the Architect of the galaxies was manifested in human form. The heavens display the greatness of God’s power. The Word made flesh displays the greatness of His love.

The heavens show us God’s hand;
Jesus shows us His heart.

The heavens declare the glory of God, but Jesus of Nazareth is the glory of God. He is the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person.

The heavens declare the glory of God in an impersonal, distant way. Jesus brings the glory of God near in a living, breathing, loving Person.

Jesus is the glory of God made human.

And never was He so glorious as when he became horribly inglorious. It happened on a cross—where the worst and the best, the highest and the lowest collided. The crucifixion of the incarnate God did not extinguish His glory, it expanded it. At Calvary the glory of God blazed forth in volcanic abundance.

It was in the moment of greatest ugliness that His beauty shone most brightly. It was in the place of utmost shame that His splendor burst forth. Violence brought virtue to light, as the crushing of a rose releases its fragrance.

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Glory was nailed to a cross and lifted up for all to see. The veil in the temple was ripped open—God’s glory had been revealed. It was the glory of His irrepressible, self-giving, self-sacrificing, redeeming, restoring love. It was the glory of His grace.

The heavens declare a piece of His glory.
The cross declares it all.

Here is the final unveiling of glory. It is a revelation, an earthquake, a feast, a waterfall, a love story, a symphony, a tsunami, a game changer, a thirst quencher, an explosion of hope, a healing balm for the wounds of our broken and flawed lives.

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“Cross” and “glory” are as far apart as two words can possibly be. They are polar opposites. Crucifixion was not just about torture—it was about shame. It was the ultimate disgrace. For Hebrews it meant being cursed. No one ever dreamed a Roman cross could be glorious.

Until God got on one.

He makes all things glorious.

Even a shameful cross.

Even unworthy sinners.

Such is the greatness of His glory.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

The transforming event

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We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling;  and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon…” Can this really be what life is about, as the media insist? This interminable soap opera going from century to century . . . from era to era, whose old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not.

 Was it to provide a location
for so repetitive and ribald a performance
that the universe was created
and man came into existence?

I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides would be right. The most we can hope for from life is some passing amusement, some gratification of our senses and death. But it’s not all.

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Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to become a Man and Man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always, and always now. Everything is transformed by the sublime drama of the Incarnation…

–Malcolm Muggeridge
The True Crisis of Our Time

Image: Thomas Cole (1836)

Only one hope

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There is
no hope at all
except for
the hope of the
incarnation.

-St. Augustine

Published in: on 12/25/2014 at 4:42  Leave a Comment  
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Holiness in a barn

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Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of mankind.

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If holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, the birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too.

–Frederick Buechner
Secrets in the Dark

Image:
“Behold The Lamb Of God”
by Walter Rane

He will not be without us

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The Maker
of heaven
and earth in His
overflowing love
will not be
without us.
He’s freely
come to us
in Jesus.

–T. F. Torrance

 

Image: “Nativity” by 
Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre

 

When the singing began

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The song of the angels
to sighing humanity
is the beginning
of the infinite mystery
of the Incarnate God.
From this
all light is streaming,
all songs are coming,
all hope is flaming.

–G. Campbell Morgan
(1863–1945)

Photo credit:
The Albin Polasek Museum

He became one of us

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God has not kept himself immaculately sterilized in some hermetically sealed Heaven. He is not some huge Ego stubborning clinging to his distant invulnerable Majesty, refusing to give an inch. No, he became one of us literally sweating, thirsting, suffering—even to the point of being loaded down with our sins, even to the point of dying.

–Mike Mason

When Love stooped

the-birth-fo-jesus-by-carl-heinrich-blochLove that goes upward, from
the heart of man to God, is adoration. Love that goes outward, from one heart to another, is affection. But love that stoops is grace and God stooped to us. This is the most stupendous fact of the universe. It reveals to us that our God is love.

–Donald Grey Barnhouse

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Painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch

Not following a code

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It is not said in the Book,
“The Word became printer’s ink,”
but it is said,
“The Word became flesh.”
Had the Word become printer’s ink,
we should have followed a code.
Instead our code is a Character.
We follow a living mind
instead of a fixed letter.

–E. Stanley Jones
(1884 – 1973)

Grace upon grace

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“From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

The achievements of the Saviour, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves.  For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in.

–St. Athanasius
(296 – 373)

Image: Tim Curtis

The shocking affirmation

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Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 12/27/2013 at 4:26  Leave a Comment  
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Crossing the Chasm

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When we did not want God, God wanted us. When we would not come to God, he came to us. When we resisted him, he plotted to win us. When we could not cross the chasm that separates creation from deity, God decided to cross it and become one of us. He would not give up his deity, rather, he would unite divinity and humanity in a single person so that God and humans would really meet and become one.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

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