GOD HOMELESS--US AT HOME
An animal shelter: "Where God was homeless and all people are at home!"
GK Chestertaon said that!
Since it's Advent season we're going to be hearing a lot about the incarnation of God in the birth of our Lord Jesus. It's wonderful that we should! We're going to hear much about his love and his sacrifice, about his poverty and rejection, his lower working-class status and such. Come "Easter" we will hear plenty about his suffering and the gory details of his physical trauma. Thank God that the cross and the resurrection will be made center in preaching and liturgy in general. [We could do well without the attempts to prove that crucifixion was the worst form of torture the world has ever known; clearly it wasn't. It's no crime to give something of a decription of crucifixion but you must have noticed that the NT doesn't go on and on about the details. The glory of the cross was not in the degree of physical agony produced; it was in the meaning of Christ's self-giving. There we see a son's holy and loving offering of obedience to his father; there we see a lover of humanity carrying out the gracious purpose of God to redeem a world; there we see God getting what he deserves--a trust-filled commitment the Holy One's heart's desire.] Here's something worth hearing about Jesus Christ who is God being a man:
“He was not merely a man so good as to be ‘like God'-- He was God. Now this is not just a pious commonplace; it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is--limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death - He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worth while.”
Dorothy Sayers said that!
Don't you love that phrase, “and thought it well worth while”? That says things about human beings. Even sinful human beings! That says things about the God who came to us in and as Jesus Christ. Roll it all around in your mind for a while. Look in the mirror and think of what it says about you. Look out your window and think what it says about those people you see passing by. Look at your parents or children or brothers or sisters or husband or wife. Look at the people that come to your assembly. Yes, say that they could all do with changing. But what was it that God thought well worth while and who was it he came for?
What does that have to say to the multiplied millions who are born in, enslaved and shaped by poverty that beggars description and on top of that are saddled with gods and religions that add burdens too hard to bear? What's our first word to such oppressed and helpless people? Should it be something about what they need to do? Something about their need to repent of their sins and turn to God who has come to us in and as Jesus Christ? Or should it be a rich development of the truth that there is a God who sees all that is going on, that he means to bring it to an end and right all the wrongs, that he has entered into their experience of oppression and helplessness, died such a death and rose to make it clear that he is Lord of all that demeans and frightens and robs those that God has made to love and be loved. Our message then to the wayward and suffering humanity might well be that we come in the name of God to proclaim hope in Christ and that he wants people to join him in telling their fellow-sufferers, friends and families that Someone does know and will deal with the injustice and evil in such a way that joy-filled astonishment will take the place of despair and ceaseless hurt.
In the meantime? In the meantime they have the word of Someone they can trust; they have hope instead of utter despair, they have assurance that this evil chaos does not last forever. In the meantime the People of God who have been privileged with such a gospel will NOW do what they can [by God's grace] to reflect and embody the life and character of Jesus in all the ways that are open to them. They will TALK for gospeling is fundamental to their calling and essential in a world of sheep that have gone astray. The transformation of a person, a society, a nation or a world rests on the truth and that truth told. When the People of God are faithful they will talk; they will GOSPEL
They will do more than talk--they will do more than TALK.