We live across from an abandoned factory. It's giant and falling apart and generally just an eyesore.
I am thankful for it.
I am thankful because this factory is a gigantic, tangible reminder of something left to rot as the people who once filled it moved on to bigger and better things, without a thought of the mess they left behind.
Kind of like my neighborhood. We live in neighborhood of crime, decay, and hurt. Our side of town has had seven shooting incidents since we moved here 5 weeks ago. Twice we have heard gunshots outside of our house. Those who are able are steadily moving "out west" where the schools are better and the view is more aesthetically pleasing.
Do you know what this makes me think of? Jesus. No, this is not a Jesus juke, but a convicting, hallowing reminder of this world's need for God's light.
We are in the season of advent right now, a time when we remember when the world was waiting, groaning for God to come down and free us from our bondage, from our sin that separated us from God and required us to sacrifice animals over and over again in a bloody ritual.
God himself knew that we didn't just need him to send in some resources and well-wishes, but we needed him to walk among us and know our pain and set an example. We needed him to not only tell us that he loved us, but to prove it by being willing to step into our world and show us that it could be done, that we could find light and hope in the middle of this mess.
And he did. He was willing to step down from a place that is so unfathomably, wordlessly wonderful that I don't have any business trying to explain it into a dirty, undeveloped world, and as a baby, no less. He left heaven and came down here to poop on himself and be dependent on his earthly mother to change his diaper.
God did that.
Not only did he choose to come to earth in a time before running water and electricity as a baby, but he chose to come into life as a poor man, not a king or aristocrat...
anyway, I think you get the point. We should be amazed and eternally grateful, right?
Let me make a confession right now. I'm not good at theological pondering. I typically need a tangible example of God's character before I can begin to grasp it. I think that I am not alone in this. Maybe God wants us to be walking examples of this today. Maybe he wants us to choose to stay in or move back into the fray, as an example of a God who refused to look down from heaven and send us blessings from afar.
If you look closely at the word "Incarnation", you will see the root "carn", which means "meat". God put "meat" on so that he could come and walk with us, live like us, and be an example for us. There is this idea floating around out there in the world today about living incarnationally, and it is all about responding to the gospel by choosing to move into hard places, abandoned places of the empire, if you will, and choosing to live like, walk with, and be an example of Christ for the people there.
Ponder on that idea for a while and come back for part 2 later.