Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Mysterious Incarnation

If you think you aren’t qualified to represent God, you’re just the kind of person he’s looking for.

God entrusted the care of his creation to two people: Adam and Eve. When Creation was threatened by unbridled wickedness, he entrusted life on earth to one man: Noah. When God determined to bless all the nations of the earth, he entrusted his plan for restoration to one man: Abraham. From the very beginning God has chosen to partner with people. God uses people—deeply flawed people. It’s a heck of a way to run a railroad, but after all, he is God.

The Exodus event is the controlling narrative of the Old Testament. The book of Exodus reveals God’s heart and mind, and also his method: Exodus 3: 7 – 8 depicts God’s compassionate heart and his determination to rescue all of Israel:
The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
God told Moses “I’ve seen, I’ve heard, and I’ve come down to deliver.” Then, just two verses later, God reveals the agent of his deliverance—Moses himself:
So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. (3:10)

Scripture reveals that when God is determined to act, he is equally determined to use people. Even the most magnificent act of God, the redemption of the world, required a man. In Jesus, God himself came to earth and became a man. He did not pretend to be human: he became human. When only God could do the job, he still came as a man. The mystery of the Incarnation is that Jesus of Nazareth is 100% God and at the same time 100% per cent man. The humanity of Christ is a theological mystery and a revelation of God’s way of doing things, all rolled into one.

We should not be surprised that it is so. God has always used people. Moses objected. Jeremiah complained that he was too young. Jonah ran away. Isaiah knew he was unclean. Whatever excuse they were trying to sell, God wasn’t buying. He believes in us even when we do not believe in him.

In fact, part of the scandal of Jesus Christ is that he by-passed all the “qualified” people and instead assembled the most unlikely team. Working stiffs, tax collectors and prostitutes were his chosen vessels. Religious professionals didn’t make the cut. Even after training his team for three years, they experienced epic failure just when the stakes were the highest. Jesus didn’t care even then. He re-assembled eleven men on a hillside in Galilee and said, “I have accomplished what only God can do; the rest is up to you.”

Our partnership with God begins when we determine to give up our self-assessment and surrender to his promise of who we are in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul encourages the church in Rome to see things God’s way:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8: 32 – 33)
Singer John Mark McMillan puts it this way: “So what if I’m not worthy, you have made me clean.”

It should not surprise us that God became a man in the person of Jesus. God had been using men to accomplish his will since creation. The mystery of the Incarnation extends beyond the humanity of Christ. The mystery includes you and me.


  1. I lost my faith because of incompetent pastors who thought they were qualified. They were not. All that you say is true -- but it's only part of the truth. There is a reason why there are admonitions in scripture about how to treat each other; to walk in integrity, and so forth. We have Strang Communications publishing a book by a woman who claims to have seen visions from God that Christians who don't tithe go to hell, we have a ministry of national stature wherein accountants have brought suit to bring things into the open; another where a man has married an intern after leaving his wife and been popped right back into the pulpit. I am aware of a Vineyard ministry claiming on line that the "FBI" says that 100,000 women and children are trafficked for sex each year in this country, but a quick check at the FBI shows nothing of the sort, their stats for all trafficking 15-18K total; 3/4 of them for labor (quoting State Department stats).

    These are not things to ignore. Lack of integrity is doing more damage to use than anything "the devil" is doing. It's why people don't trust their pastors at the local level, as well. And this is not a mystery.

    Some commentary to balance these ideas you present would be welcome.

  2. Dear SingleXianman:

    Your comment, "All that you say is true -- but it's only part of the truth." is certainly correct. Each post attempts to communicate one point, and of necessity this means that other points are left out. I'm truly distraught that the incompetence of others has challenged your faith, and when you list the shortcomings of Christian ministries you will find no disagreement from me. Lack of integrity is indeed a significant failing of the church. As to "balance," the only thing I can offer is that it's my goal to encourage believers to walk in faithfulness, and faithfulness includes having the courage not to disqualify themselves from His service.

    For every fraud and phony in ministry there are, I suspect, countless believers who do not dare to step out in obedience because they do not feel qualified. The Apostle Paul had to answer the charge that his message of grace gave others freedom to sin (Romans 6:1) but that was not his intent, nor God's. Freedom in one area never excuses transgression in another.

    Thank you for reading and following my blog, and I trust that your path home will be swift and true. Shalom.