During the holiday week, I want to make a few observations about the significance of John 1:14: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." In a sense, God endorsed humanity as the crown of His creation when He willingly took on human form so we could behold His essence in a manner we could comprehend. This indicates that God is more comfortable with our humanity than we often are, wishing to change less about us than we are eager to change about ourselves.
The message of Christmas is that God is with us, as Matthew explained in his gospel when he quoted from Isaiah 7: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Matthew 1:23). Let's consider some other implications of what this concept of the Incarnation (which means the Word made flesh) represents for us as we pursue purpose and productivity.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
When God endorsed humanity by gracing it with His presence, He re-emphasized what He had said in the beginning: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). That meant all the activities of His humanity were also good, and that included sleep, work, eating, recreation, procreation, teamwork, communication, purpose, and creativity. When Adam and Eve sinned, those activities remained intact and were still good, but would constantly be fouled by sin. I liken it to a computer that has a virus. The computer can still function, but its files and operating system are corrupted. Seldom is the computer discarded, but the virus must be found and eliminated. That is similar to the process of salvation and sanctification (the process of holiness). God did not discard mankind, but sent a remedy for the sin virus that has affected our operating system and files.
When Jesus was born, He came with the purpose of restoring things as they were meant to be in the Garden. Paul explained it this way: "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Colossians 1:19-20, emphasis added). Jesus did not come primarily to get you into a church (although that is important); He came to restore to their original working order your purpose, creativity, and all the other human traits He put into all people. This will not be completed in this lifetime, but the process has begun, and as God said in Genesis, "it is very good."
Often we believe that we need a complete overhaul before God can use us. That is not the case. Yes, you need your computer system upgraded and your files cleansed, but the essence of who you are is still God's idea. Your personality, gifts, thought process, likes, preferences, dislikes, and limitations are consistent with who God made you to be. God created you with your love for organization or your hatred for details. He made You an introvert or extrovert. He gave you your impatience for injustice or patience for the elderly. You were created not to be an end unto yourself, but were made to function best in a team where you can contribute who you are and rely on others for who you are not—with God in the midst of us all.
As I mentioned at the beginning, God is less interested in changing some things in me than I am. He has used my love of sports, my competitiveness, my writing gift, my lack of mercy, my love of travel, and my humor for His purpose and when I express them all, I am glorifying Him. When I try to change the essence of who I am, I am saying, "God, You made a mistake. You should have made me more like this or that." God knows best.
The message of Christmas is that God is truly with us. He is not intimidated or offended by our mess or our humanity in its less attractive aspects. He is content to dwell with us, in fact He dwells in us, not after we get cleaned up but so He can facilitate the process. As you celebrate the birth of Christ and rejoice in who He is, spend time time rejoicing in who you are as well, for He came not because He tolerates you but because He celebrates you. If God is happy to live with you, shouldn't you be happy to live with yourself? Have a blessed week and Happy New Year.
MATCHING GRANT: Two generous donors issued a matching challenge grant, agreeing to contribute up to $3,000 to match donations up to that amount that are received by December 31. I am calling this The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge Grant and you can double your gift by giving toward this grant. If the Monday Memo has been a blessing to you, please consider a gift to help the children in Kenya this Christmas season. You can give through my website, via Facebook, or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for helping the orphans and widows in Kenya and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!