Lately I have been thinking about the incarnation. Specifically the Emmanuel part, the God with us part. I have been thinking about the incarnation and how the only time I think on the incarnation is at Christmas. When Christ is a baby.
And I’ve been thinking about how it is cute and cuddly and a miracle, but not one I identify with very well. I’ve been thinking about summer camps and youth rallys and identifying with Jesus. How we were asked to be crucified with Christ, to die to ourselves. To live for Christ. We were promised that it would be worth it. That there would be a resurrection in ourselves, that we would be reborn more gloriously.
I have been thinking about how we were often asked to live for Christ, but never asked to live as Christ.
Emmanuel. God with us. I have been thinking about the birth, and how it came before the resurrection. I have been thinking about how Jesus was first one of us. With us before he saved us. I am thinking about how He understood the people, and they knew he understood them because he was one of them. Because He was Emmanuel: God with us.
I’ve been thinking about how Jesus never once had to get defensive about how he understood his people. Of course Jesus understood his people. He was with them. And I have been thinking about how I have heard many sermons about dying to myself, being crucified with Christ, I have never once heard a sermon challenging me to be Emmanuel, God with us.
I’ve been thinking about all the ways I have avoided being Emmanuel. How I have lived in my neighborhood for five years but I have not been diligent in being with my neighbors. I have never once set foot in either of the two churches I run by on my evening exercise route. Never once. I have noticed the fish fry and the VBS and thought oh! we should do that. But it has never made it on my calendar.
I have made some effort in connecting with the local elementary school, but I was until my own daughter went there did I get serious about it. 5 years. It took my five years and my own daughter to put my money where my mouth is. I had partnered with a kindergarten class, I had emailed a teacher or two. But if I am honest, this has always been from the perspective of an outsider. Now that I am with them, that my daughter is with them….the them has become an us and my actions have changed. Because I am no longer on the outside, because their neighborhood school is my neighborhood school.
Because with has changed me in a way that near never could.
And I am thinking about how unwilling we are to identify with people who are not like us. I am thinking about how important it is, and how hard it is do. And I am thinking about how it isn’t just physical proximity. It isn’t just where you live that makes you with someone, but what you are willing to hear, and how you are willing to let your heart brake.
I am thinking on Emmanuel, on God with us, and just how intimate that is. And I am thinking about people who live in but not among. And I am thinking of people who do not live in, but whose hearts are fully immersed. And I am broken for our unwillingness to be broken. And I am hopeful for our hearts to be changed.
I know that dying for Christ is a noble and worthy thing, I am grateful for a savior who loved the world enough to die for it. And I am grateful for a savior who lived among us, who identified with us. I am hearing the call to live as Christ, and I fear it may be a lonely road.