The Anti-Missionary’s Charge:
The concept of the Incarnation is offensive to man and degrading to God.
By Ruth Rosen
Do you ever think about what it cost God to be with us?
We used to get what I’d call “serial crank calls” from a man who was beside himself at the thought of God coming to earth in the flesh. He would leave long messages asking us in various colorful ways if we really believed that God would put Himself in a position of having dirty diapers.
Many Jewish people are offended by the idea of an incarnate God because they mistakenly think it means that a person could become God. But our serial crank caller understood it better. And he was even more offended!
Is it zeal for God’s holiness that causes some people to disbelieve the lengths God went to in order to rescue us? Maybe. Or maybe not.
Perhaps you’ve read a book called The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It is a fictional book that is full of facts. The “letters” are hypothetical communications from one demon to another. One thing that comes through over and over is the hellish disgust over God’s love for humanity. At times, the demons seem almost embarrassed for God, that He would lower Himself to care for such squalid and pathetic creatures as us.
What Hell cannot understand—nor, for that matter can humanity, except by God’s grace—is that God did not lower Himself by condescending to come to us in the flesh. He lifted us. Is it any wonder that angels desire to look into these things? (1 Peter 1:12)
God suffered the dirt and stench, not only of physical waste, but of proximity to spiritually rotting humanity. Have you ever wondered how He could stand the smell of sin breathing down His holy neck?
He came to have blistered and dirty feet, to be tempted and to put aside His own longing. He came to be rejected by people who were not worthy to set eyes on Him, let alone pass judgment.
This is the mystery that we will not fully understand until we see Him face to face—that our God endured for us. How can we comprehend the perfect One having to endure all the suffering He never deserved? Yet Jesus, God incarnate, endured everything that was beneath Him in order to lift us up to heaven.
To those who do not know Him, the Incarnation may seem like a ludicrous indignity. But through it all, God lost nothing. He used what some think is an indignity to bring dignity to our fallen race.
This love which demons mock and most humans cannot bring themselves to trust has the power to purify. When light touches darkness, the darkness becomes light. When God touches us, He does not become dirty but we become clean. When we trust His promises, He adopts us as His own.
Why are some so agitated by the love God has lavished upon us? Maybe because the only choice we are left with is to be embarrassed—or humbled—by His glorious unmitigated acts of grace on our behalf. Embarrassment is a denial of just how wonderful God is. Humility is the only right response to a God who has humbled Himself.
God grant us the humility to appreciate, truly and deeply, all that His Advent means.
Joyful, joyful we adore Him!
-Ruth Rosen, editor