ArticlesBlog

Community of Christ: You Are Worth It!

Community of Christ: You Are Worth It!


You are worth it! That’s the message I want to emphasize
this Advent season. Let me explain. During Advent we focus on “incarnation.” Incarnation means the embodiment of God in
human life, more specifically, one life—Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John states it most clearly:
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” Often, I hear the concept of incarnation being
described with words like God’s condescension, or God’s debasement,
or God’s lowering into human life. The impression given is that God had to do
something that was beneath God’s nature and dignity. There are some scripture verses that use those
kinds of words to describe what happened. However, I think the overall witness of scripture
points in another direction. And that’s the message I want to emphasize
this Advent Season! The good news of Advent includes the realization
that God’s love is so complete, vast, and intent on knowing us,
that God embodied God’s self in human flesh— now get this part— to evidence just how
loveable and worthwhile we are! God’s love is so deep, wide, and personal, that God moved into our skin to experience life as one of us! Think about that! I wish this was original inspiration! However, it’s not. I picked it up as a quote from an essay
by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, “Gilead”. She wrote: “What if we accept
God’s love for humanity, a love so great that it causes God to become human,
as a sign that we are worth it!” In his article, “God Isn’t the Same Since
Bethlehem,” Al Hanner observed: “The Hebrew word for “know” implies
full entry into an idea or experience, and in the incarnation God chose
to know human life by participating in it fully.” By the way, part of the author’s meaning
suggested in the article’s title, “God isn’t the Same Since Bethlehem,” is that our perception of God changes,
sometimes dramatically, when we relate to God through the experience
of God’s incarnation in Jesus. In Jesus, God entered the circumstances of
human life, characterized by freedom and contingency, joy and disappointment,
fulfillment and suffering, gain and loss. There is no human experience—being born,
growing up, learning, being tempted, loneliness, rejection, suffering, and dying—
that God has not experienced in Jesus. It’s remarkable when you think about it! God is not just available to us. God is not just beside us. God is with us in every way possible! That’s what love does. “Why am I here?” That’s what I asked myself once. I was on a ministry trip far from home
in an unfamiliar city. I was in an urban slum surrounded by crowds of humanity who did not look at all like me. It was hot, humid, and uncomfortable. My stomach was upset. And I was tired. And, as I looked down, I was standing in
raw sewage running down the street. The odor was overwhelming. “Why am I here?” I was there because I cared deeply for the
people of the church who lived there! I was there because
I needed to be in their life situation to bring authentic witness of the gospel and to receive it. I was there because the gospel is more than words and good intentions expressed from a safe distance. The gospel, if it is true to God’s love, is about being here and there, being with, in every possible way. I was there because they
and that place are worth it! Are you beginning to see what I mean now? If Advent and Christmas and incarnation are
about God’s love for human beings, there is more than enough reason
to believe God delights in you — your being, your potential, your ideas,
your talents, your creativity, your efforts, and your more generous impulses. God delights in life embodied as you,
a unique human being! Advent, truly discerned, births a change in
perspective about oneself. I was at a church event once during which
I was going around trying to affirm the children present. I would go up to a child and say, “Do you know
that you are a special, beloved child of God?” I said that to one rambunctious little boy,
and he responded, “No I’m not. I’m a real stinker!” I was speechless. But then it occurred to me. That’s probably the message he regularly
had heard at home, or at school, and, perhaps even at church! Advent is meant to break through such pronouncements
and perceptions about our lives and shift us to realize just how much we are
loved, valued, and truly worth it. At the same time, if Advent and Christmas
and incarnation are about God’s love for us, there is more than enough reason to believe
God delights in others— friends, neighbors, fellow church members,
casual acquaintances, strangers, and, yes, even those we currently view with suspicion,
disdain, and anger. And, if we extend this truth further in scope,
there is more than enough reason to believe that God delights in the whole creation with all its possibilities and diverse expressions of life! So, that brings us to some important questions
to ponder as we reflect on the meaning of incarnation. Perhaps you want to pause after watching this
video to personally consider these questions, or, if you are in a group, to discuss them together. These questions, if pursued prayerfully,
with faith and hope, will light the way to good news
for you and me and the world, waiting to be discovered in a baby in a manger!

Comment here