Immanuel, God with us, we hear these words again and again during the Christmas season. Most know that it means Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and lived 33 years as a human being. Most know that it paved the way for Jesus to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins.
But for most of us, it is not enough that we know His coming means He could die for us. We want to know how His coming can help us pattern our lives after Him.
I don’t know about you, but the bargain I struck was: “He died for me, so I will live for Him.”
If that is the case, then what does Immanuel, God with us, mean for our everyday lives? How does it impact how I go about the process of living? Brian McLaren briefly talks about the beauty and mystery of the incarnation (which I think you will enjoy) – Here are three things I think we can learn from the Word dwelling among us:
Immanuel came to remind us that our bodies are not evil
The first humans were made with the pronouncement that “it was good.” So our bodies are not evil, they are not debased and unworthy. Yes, they are mortal, weak, and frail – but not something that is only destined for the trash heap. God dwelling among us could only happen if the human body was a suitable container for the divine. In fact, it may be the perfect container.
Take this for an example, the best way to shine pure light through a container is to have clear, smooth glass. If you tint the glass with color or cut it to add facets – you may create beauty, but it will not accurately transmit the light. Now consider our frail bodies, they have nothing to boast in, no power or glory to compare with that of the Divine. Our mightiest strength is worm-like in comparison.
This means our lack of strength, then, becomes a pure conduit for the supernatural because we have nothing to add. We cannot inject our own strength – we can only reasonably transmit His. Anyone among us but a fool would try and “add” to His strength.
So Christ showed us by example that our bodies are not useless but crucial to His original design. The body then should be revered for it’s weakness, for it’s frailty. We should rejoice that our bodies are powerless in comparison to angels and powers – it is our weakness that gives us the exalted state of “God bearers.”
Christ showed us that sin, not our bodies, corrupted His intent.
Immanuel came into humanity to transform from the inside out
Stand back and imagine the whole of humanity standing on a wide stage. Then imagine in the center of that human sea is a single, solitary person – Christ. It is as if Jesus was placed in the middle of us as a seed – a light in the middle of a dark and downcast race. From there, Christ transformed twelve, then seventy-two, then five hundred, then thousands, then millions – to the point where over 1 billion people now claim His Name.
It is this view that gives us a glimpse of how Christ changes us. He does not come with rules to whitewash culture. No, He plants His Spirit within us and gradually reworks our sin-twisted psyche. He massages the knots of selfishness and expands our love for those around us. He lifts our eyes to new heights by dissolving our gaze-lowering mental-hunchbacks.
It is the gradual process of transformation, an evolution of heart, as it were, that Christ came to perform. So we should not be discouraged that we still fail in so many ways. His work of love is gradual. It is the loving hand of a Father on a wounded, sick child. He does not rack us with pain mercilessly correcting our shortcomings. No, He lovingly restores us as quickly as our frail bodies and minds can take.
Immanuel came to give us a new ancestor to follow – the Second Adam
The first Adam left us a legacy of survivalism, impulsiveness, and short-sightedness. The Second Adam left us a legacy of selflessness, discipline, and seeing with expanded eyes. We are physically related to the first and spiritually related to the last. So the question becomes in whose steps will you follow? Will you follow the way of the apple eater or wait for the real feast?
The more we follow after the Second Adam, the more His spiritual DNA is imparted to us. And the more we allow His blood to be infused into ours, the more we begin to resemble Him. The more we resemble Him, the easier it is for others to follow Him through our example.
Immanuel, God with us – Final Thoughts
Immanuel, God with us, is a powerful statement for our lives today. It showed us that our bodies can be conduits for His love and power. It showed us that He came to transform us with love, gentleness, and care. It showed us that we can claim a pure and perfect Father – God Himself. Immanuel, God with us , tells us that we are loved, cherished, and cared for – not just two thousand years ago but today.