The Word dwells among us even today! One of the world’s leading New Testament scholars, N.T. Wright, describes the Word this way, “The Word challenged the darkness before creation and now challenges the darkness that is found, tragically, within creation itself. The Word is bringing into being the new creation, in which God says once more, ‘Let there be light! (Wright, John for Everyone, 5).’” God’s Word brings health, healing, and hope. When God’s word goes forth from his mouth creation is transformed (Isaiah 55.10-11). The Word was not an idea nor a concept, but a real person. When God sent the Word to dwell upon the earth, the people choose not to acknowledge him. They pretended not to see him.
The Word came to challenge the darkness! All of John’s Gospel points to this one statement: The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. And, the Gospel reframes the meaning of God bringing life and light every step along his journey. He exposed the darkness by his very presence among the people. Yet, the populace rejected him. We have much to learn about Christianity if we fail to understand the way in which God brings his presence into our hearts. The Word reaches into the dark places of the soul and shines a light, and brings life.
This is the greatest drama! When we open up the bible we have every opportunity for God to become flesh and dwell within us and among us. I love how Mark’s Gospel boldly puts this concept of the Word becoming flesh, “The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1.14-15). The coming of the Kingdom begins with the first step: repentance. Repentance comes by way of humility – humbling our selves and allowing the Word to dwell within us.
In the beginning when God spoke, all of creation was formed. God spoke into the darkness and light and life were formed. When God speaks, things are created. And, we are created in his image so when we speak, things are created as well. God’s words were pure love. Our words are tainted with broken understandings, big assumptions, and false realities that we design by our own imaginations. God’s Word will stand forever, but our words are temporal.
Humility opens us up to understanding our collective brokenness is inherent to our human nature. I often joke with my kids that science is like the weather, if you live long enough the “scientific truth” will change. At one point in history we believed that the world was flat, yet we are still discovering God’s created order. Science would be hard pressed to explain our Christian beliefs in a virgin birth, and the God made living flesh that dwelled among us. It easy for us to reason our way through circumstances but some details will always elude us. We will draw conclusions that are just fabricated by our own suspicious minds. Suspicious minds are a great way of describing the religious leaders in the New Testament. They were suspicious about Jesus in every way.
Humility calls us to not take sides, but to look beyond our own preferences. We like to believe that there is only one right and one wrong way of looking at a situation. There can only be one possible answer to the problem, only one viewpoint. But wisdom proves us all wrong, because outside of being God we are never going to have the complete picture of reality. It a scary thing to become the Savior of a people, but we can fall into that role very easily. The church only requires one Savior, and we are not.
Humility is the place we arrive at when we admit our shortfalls. Humility is not a place of abhorring ourselves, but of loving ourselves more. Humility is the place of discovery where heaven meets this earthen vessel, and God becomes more inside of me, and I become less. Christmas is about becoming less, not more. Humility is the pathway to finding the love of God that desires to dwell within us. The call toward God becomes more important than the call toward people.
Conflict, complaining, and complications are the darkness that we live in as fallen human beings. Conflict is ever part of our world. We cannot prevent it, nor can we stay the course of peace as much as we want to live in peace. We attempt to manage conflict through our interactions and choices. Conflict is naturally present in every relationship because of our fallen nature. The bible is full of conflict. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the definition of conflict as an “incompatibility between two or more opinions, principles, or interests.” It describes disagreement as a “lack of consensus or approval.” It further states that we may define argument as “an exchange of diverging or opposite views, a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.”
The Word became flesh and dwelled among us as a catalyst for conflicts, complaining, and complications. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on this earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10.34). When our worldview is challenged by the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, then conflict, complaining, and complications are surely part of the dialogue. We are living in a season of explosive growth in sharing our ideas with the use of the internet. Human words travel through the internet faster than ever before. We can see how society is immediately impacted with the speed of our conversations. Our traveling words have grown from foot delivery, to horseback, to steam engines, to motorized vehicles, to airplanes, and now the world-wide web. In a very real sense our human words have become flesh and are dwelling among us. Our words do become flesh and dwell among us. So we must be very careful with how we share our words and ideas. We are responsible for every word we speak and share.
The Word calls us to conform to his Image: humility. The Word requires us to be self-disciplined in the area of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation. There is much fear when it comes to actually listening to one another. We shut each other down, and distance ourselves for fear of being exposed and experiencing self-mortification. When we really love in humility, we don’t hide our sins and failings or run away when a little discomfort invades our space. How can we know that we can deeply love one another if we cannot stand in the face of our own mortality, and extend a willing hand to a brother or sister in moral crisis? How can we deeply love one another if we fail to share our deepest hurts, longings, and failings?
The Word calls us from our thought-life about Jesus into an actualized reality of living as the Word made flesh. We are called to live an Incarnational life as part of the corporate body of Christ on this earth. We are to live as confessional, relational, and forgiving people. When the Word becomes flesh and dwells within us a new integration happens between our head, our hearts, and our hands. The Spirit dwells within us even stronger.
Humility calls us to become accountable to one another, supporting one another in our weaknesses. Confession becomes a mysterious way of the cross that brings us into deep growth. Incarnational living happens when two or three gather in God’s name and offer their faults, sufferings, pain, and death to one another in intimate fellowship. Love calls us to continually live in humility where we understand the struggles we face and acknowledge our weaknesses. This act of confession is not a downer, but divine grace. It is not depression. It is not self-abasement. It is not dryness. It is the call of the disciple to take up the cross and follow humbly relying on God as Savior and Lord.
There is a counterfeit word that is shaping our lives. Are we willing to allow the real Word that takes flesh and dwells within and among us to reshape us into his Image? Are we willing to do battle with the enemy of our soul who longs for us to be created in our own fallen image? Most often it is pride, fear, and our own self-importance that keep us from realizing our potential. Healing happens in the presence of a confessional community of those who are willing to search out healing in their relationships.