Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A pre-Christmas Meditation

I’ve been pondering the staggering mystery of the Incarnation. The Uncontainable One is contained in the Virgin’s womb. He who existed from all eternity with no mother is born into time with no father. He who is higher than the heavens is laid in the lowly manger. The Maker of Man, “without change” Himself becomes Man. The formless One takes on flesh, not merely for a time, but permanently, for He also “ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father” not only in His divinity, but also in His full humanity.

Most people, I think, do not actually believe it any more. Yet surely the Incarnation is the foundational doctrine of the Christian religion, the keystone, the bedrock.

Because what if this Jesus was/is not God? Then:

His teachings become debatable.
His commandments become optional.
His miracles become problematical.
He could not conquer death, but would be subject to it the same as everybody else.
He had no power to send the Holy Spirit.

Without the Holy Spirit:

We are left with our unenlightened consciences to exemplify the saying, “There is a way which seemeth good unto a man, but the end thereof is destruction.”
Without the life of the Holy Spirit, we cannot truly live, because He is our life.
Apart from that divine Life, the entire Christian enterprise becomes vapid, and people are right to say, “Yes, that’s all very nice, but so what?”
Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be sanctified.
Unless the Spirit Himself prays in us, we are not the adopted children of God.
Unless the Holy Spirit descends upon the waters of baptism, they are inefficacious. We must be baptized “bywater and the Spirit.”
The same applies to the bread and the wine of Holy Communion. Without the Holy Spirit, they are mere bread and wine.

Most of all, if Jesus was not God in the flesh, then God did not love us enough, after all, to become one of us.

In the other hand, if Jesus was not truly man, then:

He could not have conquered sin the same way it conquered us: through the flesh.
He could not sanctify human nature by uniting His Divine Nature with it.
He could not have glorified our humanity is His resurrection, nor have deified it by His ascension.
He could not have died, much less have conquered death by dying.
He did not have real flesh and blood to share with us.
He could not be our perfect High Priest – or Judge or Advocate.
Most of all, God did not love us enough to become one of us.

And so on and so forth. If we do not believe that this Christmas Child was truly the Logos (Articulate Intellect) of God, who “was in the beginning with God and…was God,” then we really should give up calling ourselves Christians, because the whole religion unravels. In fact, it seems to me this is precisely what we see having happened in so many denominations all around us.

Truly, the faith St. Peter professed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” is the rock upon which the Church is built.


DebD said...

Your thoughts have reminded me how much I love the pre-communion prayer that is said corporately (at least in the OCA tradition) "I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first..."