Incarnation Inspiration: Why the Manger Gives Hope in Tragedy

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Trending Topic: #GodIsntFixingThis

It happened again. More gunshots. More lives lost. More calls for gun control. More rebuttals to calls for gun control. More confusion over the facts. More press conferences. More finger pointing. More of nothing changing. And unfortunately…I have little doubt that there will be more shootings in the future. Perhaps even before the end of the year…

Such is our world. We live in a place that is so horribly broken. Everything is so wrong! Everything is messed up—and it doesn’t look like anything will change any time soon! In fact, so depressed has the world gotten that the New York Daily News ran this on the front page:

GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.

The standard “politically correct” response of “thoughts and prayers” is apparently not enough anymore. It doesn’t do anything. Nothing ever changes and before the media is done getting the facts in one shooting another one happens. This half-year alone: Charleston, Chattanooga, Lafayette, Oregon, Colorado Springs, and now San Bernardino. Not counting the attacks outside America in Paris, Lebanon, etc.—countless incidents with countless lives lost. Death is always trending on social media. And with it comes hopelessness.

So what do we do? Well, we pray. But then another one happens. And we pray again. Then another. Maybe it’s true…maybe God isn’t fixing this.

Or maybe He is—just in ways we don’t perceive. In fact, maybe He already has!

It’s fitting that this shooting took place during the Christmas season. Because when people are overwhelmed by devastating deaths, they can look to the manger and find hope.

At our house, we love Christmas. We go all out—in every room, in every nook and cranny, there’s something Christmassy. Especially outside. But this year we decided to center all our outside lights around a single object—a wooden manger that we made from scratch, filled with lights and hay. And we found a sort of marquee to place in front of it. Can you guess what it says?

HOPE.

hope manger

Why? Because of what a manger like that once held. No, not the hay. Not the saliva of munching cows. Not the drool of a donkey. Those are all things you expect in a manger. But this object—this person—would be the least likely to be found in a manger. He’s full of majesty and glory. Millions of angels worship Him by the hour and go out to execute His bidding at a word. All Creation—mountains, oceans, continents, planets—are held together by His power. And it was that same power that created all we see today! We call Him “God.” And that is what was found in the manger.

God incarnate. God-Man. Jesus Christ. Hope, love, and grace in human form.

Did you know that God cried out in pain at His birth and later at His scourging? Did you know that God’s blood was spilled on Mary’s dress and then later on the wooden beams of the cross? Did you know that God shivered in the cold manger and later in a cold cell? He sweat. He hungered. He was thirsty. He was exhausted. He—God of all—was a human. Fully God. Fully Man.

We call this concept the incarnation. And perhaps no one talks about its wonders more than the Apostle John, especially in the first chapter of His Gospel and his first epistle. John 1:14:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John SAW his glory. His eyes beheld God Himself, walking on the ground that He had created. Confining Himself in molecules that were put into being by His Hand. First John 1 echoes the same thoughts in the first two verses:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us…”

John heard God. He looked on Him. He TOUCHED Him! God was made manifest! I love how a powerful song by Sovereign Grace Music puts it:

“Who would have dreamed or ever foreseen
That we could hold God in our hands?”

No one could’ve conceived of God being conceived in a woman’s womb! Of God fitting inside a little baby. Of a dirty shepherd handling a swaddled baby that just so happened to be the Divine Son of God! My friends, we’ve lost our wonder at the Incarnation! It’s can’t fit into a box—it can’t even fit into a Nativity display!

Even the best religious “experts” have a hard time with it—trying to explain the idea of infinite God becoming a finite man. Christmas may seem like simply trees and presents, but it’s infinitely complex! Because it’s dealing with the inspirational incarnation. No wonder so many people have gone astray into cults trying to explain it, trying to claim that this could not be so. No wonder every other religion does not offer this option—that God could become a human. It’s too much for the mind to handle!

And yet it’s the most hope-giving thing to ever happen to humanity! Because it means that yes, God IS fixing the problem! He did!

Christ has come! Hallelujah!

 

And that means hope. That means a God who understands sorrow. He can fix the pain of a shooting because His body was shot through with nails. He knows what it’s like to lose a loved one because He lost His best friend. He knows rejection and loneliness—His disciples fled from Him when He faced arrest.

Islam teaches that God is far away—He’d never condescend to become a man. That’s crazy—if not blasphemous! Judaism would agree. Atheists would nod, although they would say that to believe in a God who can help at all is naïve and childlike. The religions (or lack thereof) of this world all walk by, one by one, shaking their head at the impossibility of the Incarnation. God is distant—if He’s there at all. No, that kind of God can’t fix this. He doesn’t know what pain is like.

But Christianity comes and embraces pain and suffering and declares that in the midst of it all…in the midst of this earth spinning out of control, THERE IS HOPE. Because God DOES know what it’s like to feel pain. And He is fixing this. And one day, He will permanently place Himself on a fixed planet with people who have fixed bodies. He isn’t far away. He CAME. And He’s coming again to fix it all once and for all!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21:3-4

-M@

Christ has come

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