Christmastide Meditation: The Word Became Flesh – Pt. 1 [30DEC2010]
I have been pondering the “Word became flesh” for several days now. It seems the more I ponder this thought, the bigger it becomes. Although I have considered the question, “What does it mean; the Word became flesh?” a number of times, I don’t think I’ve spent this lengthy a period of unbroken time pondering it. My thoughts have gone in a number of different but related directions and I’m not sure any of them are completely developed, but I felt compelled to put “pen to paper” nonetheless. Before going further, there are a couple of assumptions I am making; (1) the Word refers to Jesus as written about in John 1:1-5. (2) the Word and Jesus refer to the incarnation of God in the person and flesh of Jesus Christ also written about in John 1:14-18, Philippians 2:5-11, and 1 John 1:1-4.
So, on to question one…
What does the Word became flesh mean? I think at the most basic level, the Word became flesh means what it says…
God became human. The history of the church dating back to the earliest Scriptures indicate this foundational understanding was agreed upon by the first followers of Jesus and continues (in large part) as an understood belief in his followers even today.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14-18)
“The Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through his transcendent love, become what we are, that he might bring us to be even what he is himself” (Ireneaus)
“For He was made man that we might be made God” (Athanasius)
How this marvelous mystery of the incarnation progresses and ultimately plays out in the lives of Jesus’ followers is one of the directions my “pondering” has taken me. I guess that makes the question take a different direction as well, presenting another layer of examination…
“What does the Word became flesh mean in the lives of Jesus’ followers?” I think this is a pretty big question too and we can get into many branches of theology and doctrine thereof, but theory and theology is not my aim as the object of this question. There is indeed a time and place for the study of theology and discussions relative to all the great doctrines of the Bible, but conversely, those things might also be a contributor to some of our problems as “believers.” So, for now…the lives we live as Christians and the daily practice of “living out” our faith are the objects of the question.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –Jesus (John 10:10)
Much of our understanding of the Word becoming flesh or God coming to walk among men involves a domineering focus on the act of humanity’s salvation… that is, God’s reconciliatory act of atonement through the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Important as this aspect of the Word becoming flesh is, it is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.” Jesus came to give us life; abundant, full, today, and eternal. Jesus lived among men to not only provide us a way back to God and show us the way to God, but to show us how to live our lives in the now for God as kingdom people of the eternal tomorrow. We scrutinize and obsess over the tip and miss the mass of the iceberg of our faith and all it has to offer us on this side of eternity. It is this side of eternity that God is so very involved in…it might be one of the details of our relationship He is most concerned with…and we might be missing it. I’ll talk more about these thoughts in the coming days. I hope you’ll weigh in.