by Matthew Morgan
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. — John 1:9-12
He was in the world. – The Birth Story is God’s Story, present throughout Scripture. In the meditations for this week, we are exploring the mystery of Incarnation as well as the ways that the Nativity Story echoes God’s Bigger Story throughout Scripture, revealing that Christ “was in the world” from the beginning.
Read Genesis 1:26-27
There are days, many days, when I wonder with much frustration, What is wrong with humans? The things we do to one another! The things we say! And I read the creation account and it seems so beautiful. God himself took dirt and shaped the first person. Then he took a rib out of Adam and shaped it, exactly how it wanted, and formed Eve. He breathed life into them with his very breath. He put his image in them and he said, “it was very good.” And yet, so much has gone wrong. There is so much brokenness. So much pain. We have forgotten what it means to be human.
But Jesus was also a human and he didn’t just come to teach us about who God is, he also reminds us of what it means to live your best life. He calls it the abundant life. Jesus certainly affirmed claims that he was the Son of God, but the only title that he ever used to describe himself was “Son of Man.” In Hebrew, “Son of Man” is translated Ben Adam – “Son of Adam.” In taking on human flesh, he is reminding us that it is a good thing to be a person. We have failed at truly being human – human the way God designed for us to be – but Jesus refreshes our memory that we are created in God’s image and that God’s creation is very good. The author, Madeline L’Engle writes, “Christ came to us as Jesus of Nazareth, wholly human and wholly divine, to show us what it means to be made in God’s image.”
It’s important for us to really embrace this truth that God became human to show us the best way to be alive. If we don’t, we will think that Jesus came and died for us and someday we will be saved from our humanity. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, the apostles were left staring into the sky and two angels approached them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Sometimes we can focus so intently on Heaven that we miss that God says that it’s still good to be a human. “You still have my breath! I have good works for you do.” The good news of Jesus is that we can reclaim our humanity. We can live, here and now, as people with God’s breath in us; as divine image bearers. We can say and believe that it is good to be a man. It’s good to be a woman. It’s good to be a child.
As this truth grows in us and matures in us and works on our hearts, then it also changes the way we look at our neighbors. It changes the way we see other sons and daughters of Adam. When we truly recognize that God is with us in our humanity, we can never again treat others as less than. We cannot treat our neighbors with disdain or judgment. We cannot partake in any action or words that steal the dignity of a fellow human being. We cannot accept racism or sexism or classism as anything but a rejection of the incarnation. If God joins us in our humanity, he joins ALL of us. So we must embrace the breath of God that flows through us while also recognizing and affirming God’s image in each and all of our neighbors.
How would your life look different if you also embraced this abundant life? How does recognizing God’s image in others change the way that we relate to them? Who do you need to start seeing as one of God’s good creations?