The Spirit of Christmas Present
Discover what is available to you right now because of the incarnation in the past.
The Spirit of Christmas Present
Last time our attention was drawn to the incarnation, the “en-flesh-ment” of God. We discovered that the New Testament reveals that God became human, divesting of divine powers, lived under the limitations of a person, yet this one God is revealed to us as Father, Son, and Spirit. The scripture never explains how this can be. Scholars can find no historical links to this thought, how it possibly could have developed out of Judaism or the Greco-Roman philosophy of the day. The scripture never comes right out and states that God is one in three persons, rather this doctrine of orthodoxy is an inference from what is revealed. God although divine is also like, and the emphasis is on like, like one of us except without sin.
When we explored the Spirit of Christmas Past, the message was simple: “Draw near to the God who has drawn near to you.” The way a person draws near is by belief. A person draws near to God by believing what Scripture reveals:
John 3:16 (NLT)
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Now that I have your rapt attention with this stunning opening statement: Today we are going to consider what this incarnation of God means for us now. How God’s incarnation can transform you into the individual that you are intended to be.
The scripture reveals that the entire human race is under a curse of estrangement. Once in the Adam and the Eve, we had knowledge of God; we could discern one another’s hearts, we cared for the earth, and we knew our very self. But the Genesis story tells us that the man and the woman, through disobedience rejected their love relationship with God. We call this original sin. The result might be best understood as a break-up of epic proportions.
Do you ever get an inner sense that this world is really messed up? (Romans 8:22) That something has gone terribly wrong? Our history is full of evil, man’s inhumanity to man, things from slavery, genocide, murder to addiction, gossip, and lies (Genesis 6:5). Every utopia, every system of governance no matter its foundation, even here in these United States that declared: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” becomes corrupt as egoism and what I want, what’s best for me, destroys community and equality and human rights (Proverbs 29:2, Galatians 5:15).
Like me, have you ever felt something is wrong inside of you? (Romans 7:15). I have felt like I just couldn’t get my act together, that there is something forever broken inside. I have felt unloved, unacceptable, excluded, rejected, and marginalized. Depression has been a companion, that fellowshipped with frustration, leaving me at times in despair. The reason is the break-up of epic proportions. Sin deters, damages, and destroys relationships (Romans 6:23). Everything rises and falls on relationships. When relationships are estranged your world is broken. The wrong you see in this world, the wrong you feel inside of you is because of Sin (2 Peter 2:8).
God has a dilemma to deal with (2 Peter 3:9). God wants righteousness in all of Creation; a right relationship with you that will empower you to live your life to the full (John 10:10). This right relationship is characterized by love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love cannot be forced but must be entered into voluntarily. God’s nature also requires justice, for God stands opposed to everything that is not according to His will (Psalm 37:27-29). The Divine Dilemma is devising a solution for this estrangement that is in accordance with holiness, righteousness, justice and love, mercy, and grace; all attributes of God’s very nature (Exodus 34:6).
We have a hint for God’s solution from:
Isaiah 46:9-10 (MSG)
I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have—incomparable, irreplaceable—From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do…'
The dilemma will only be solved by restoring a Garden in Eden like relationship with the Creation. Revealed to us, in the beginning, is a creation declared very, very, good (Genesis 1:31). This will also be the end, a creation restored to righteousness again declared to be very, very, good (Revelation 21:21). The solution to God’s dilemma, creating this solution, is the incarnation.
You may label me a heretic, a blasphemer when I say I think God is not in control of all things but rather that God is in charge of all things. Being in control means that nothing happens but what you want to happen. Being in charge means you are the responsible party for what happens. Being in control you don’t need to intervene because everything must be the way you want it. Being in charge means you must intervene in order to keep things on track, to right the wrongs, to move things in the direction of your intent (Romans 8:28).
Everything that has been created was created by God. One of God’s creatures broke creation. Because of God’s nature and human free will God took responsibility for the actions of his creatures, in a spiritual economy that I still fail to comprehend, undid what Adam’s actions caused. In order to rescue everyone God intervened by becoming human to reconcile humanity from estrangement.
God the creator becomes one of his own creations. For me it’s been impossible to wrap my head around what is revealed.
John 1:1 (NIV) & Phil 2:6-8 (MSG) & John 1:14 (NIV) & John 10:30 (MSG)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human.” “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus answered: “I and the Father are one heart and mind.”
So God incarnates, the man we call Jesus of Nazareth is fully God, and fully human. Jesus set aside all the powers of Deity, giving us a revelation of what Adam was like. Knowing God, seeing into the hearts and minds of others, knowing self, who he is and what he is about, his meaning and purpose. Then instead of disobeying when the ultimate sacrifice is called for, Jesus willingly allows himself to be executed as that symbolic sacrificial lamb, to atone for the sins of humanity, that every human being may be reconciled to God.
The scripture describes the situation like this:
Romans 5:12-17 (MSG)
You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
The incarnation is God’s solution to setting everything right.
Three experiences are yours now, in the present because of the incarnation in the past.
First and foremost: right now you can be reconciled to God. When we considered the spirit of Christmas past we were urged to draw near to God. Now John the Baptist tells us: John 1:29 (NIV)
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Look and believe the good news, that God in Jesus has reconciled you to Himself and this incredible gift is available to you right now by simply believing that it is so.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV)
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.
Now can be your time to look and believe.
Secondly, right now Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1) To be seated means that for now one’s work in completed, Jesus has made it possible for you to end your estrangement. Sitting at the right-hand means being in a position of power and authority to carry out the will of the one whom you are seated next. Scripture reveals what Jesus is doing as He sits at that right hand:
Romans 8:34 (NIV)
“…Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Interceding means intervening, mediating, pleading on our behalf, that we grow deep, grow up and grow fruit. Right now Jesus is on your side, believer or non-believer, saint or sinner, pulling for you to win life eternal. It’s up to you to partner with Him, to agree with His intercession for you.
Now can be your time to be made right, inside and out. Whole and complete, at peace with yourself, one with God.
Thirdly, right now you can begin to live your life to the full. Jesus said:
John 10:10 (NIV)
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Life to the full is living right now a life characterized by love, being loved and loving others, by belonging, acceptance, being part of community, of having meaning and purpose for your existence.
Now it can be your time to start living a significant, a count for something life.
This can be all yours now in the present because of the incarnation. How can all this be yours right now?
Romans 10:8-13 (NIV)
"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
The incarnation is what makes it possible for you to be reconciled ot God, to place yourself on God’s side, to live your life to the full. No wonder we celebrate Christmas
Now, right now, what are you going to do?
Why not grab this wildly extravagant life with both hands?