“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.” CS Lewis: Prince Caspian
This is one of my favourite quotes from Lewis; it captures wonderfully the complexity of human nature and existence. But the true glory of humanity does not come from our descent from Adam, but from the way in which God has allowed his own glory and reputation to be inextricably linked with ours.
- God created us in his image. This doesn’t mean we look like God, but that we are to care for God’s creation and demonstrate his love and nature to the world around us. God has tied his own reputation up in our behaviour. Given our propensity to foul up, that is remarkable!
- God chose Israel to bless the world. In Genesis 12, God chooses Abraham’s descendants as his way of blessing the whole of humanity. When Israel went wrong, it reflected badly on their God – but he stuck with them.
- God allowed people to write his book. The Bible is inspired by God, but it most definitely has human authorship, too. The differing ways in which Luke came to write Acts and John came to write Revelation show that. God used human language and real writers to communicate his message to humanity; he didn’t just crank up a heavenly dictating machine and have it transcribe his words.
- God uses people to take his message to the world. God could write words in the sky; he could send angels, but he doesn’t. He sends us, fallible human beings to tell people about him. To use Paul’s image; we have treasure in cracked pots.
However, above everything else and tying it all together, God became man; he took on human flesh and lived a human life. There was no heavenly glow and aseptic conditions for his birth; there was blood and pain and fear as a young girl gave birth to her first child without any anaesthetic or modern medicine. He lived as a wandering teacher, without a permanent home and screamed out his last breath on an instrument of torture which would be banned by all conventions if someone were to invent it today.
But the story doesn’t stop there. God as man rose from the dead and through his death and resurrection defeated sin and death, reconciling God and man.
The Incarnation isn’t just for Christmas; it is the climax God’s commitment to humanity which started at creation and goes on into eternity.