I hope you had a good Christmas.
How do you feel now?
Stuffed to the gunwales? Surrounded by the debris of the day (we’ll clear it up later)? Satisfied? Sad? Lonely?
From time to time I like to have ‘Messiah Moments’. No, not delusions of grandeur (and how deluded must you be to think you are the Messiah: unless your name is Jesus Bar-Joseph and you were born in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago?) What I mean is that occasionally I like to listen to Handel’s Messiah from start to finish, especially if I can turn it up loud(ish). I am having one of those as I type this (prepared earlier in the week). I am having my Christmas ‘Messiah Moment’ and reflecting again on how well Handel must have known his Bible to bring it all together so seamlessly. I bask in the beauty of the music and how it so perceptively captures the mood of the familiar words and enhances their meaning.
I was also reading a book about Jesus* and then I had a spine-tingling moment. The Messiah is the story of Jesus. It is the narrative of the man who was God – the One promised of old. The spine-tingle was because of a renewed awareness of Jesus’ incarnation. He was God with us. But he was also human. How this could be has always bemused me. How can he have been fully God without that compromising his humanity, or without his humanity contaminating his God-ness? Suddenly understanding became acceptance. I will never understand it because my tiny brain can’t conceptualise such a thing and I have no other frame of reference for it; but if I can embrace it, I mean really embrace it, then my understanding of Jesus will be different.
At that moment the spine-tingle turned into a full-blown physical shudder of embracing the paradox. Because the fully human Jesus was how he was and who he was because he was filled with the Spirit of God and was fully reliant on his Father. AND HE INVITES HIS FOLLOWERS TO DO THE SAME! We won’t be fully God, but we can be fully reliant on him. We can have as close a relationship with God as Jesus did!
Re-read that last paragraph. Doesn’t it send a shiver or shudder down your spine? That’s what being a Christian is about. Nothing to do with going to church, singing hymns and songs, being nice, or any of the other things Christians do. It’s about us following Jesus – his example – and he offers that to anyone.
Now read these words from the New Testament and see if they come alive for you (from Philippians 2, The Message paraphrase):
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour of God the Father.
and again from John 5:19 (New International Version):
Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’
And right at this moment, as I type, The Messiah bursts into one of the crescendos and the choir exalts with:
“For unto us a Son is given and the government shall be on his shoulder. And his name shall be called ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Be blessed, be a blessing
*Beautiful Outlaw by John Elderedge – I highly recommend it!