catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 22 :: 2008.12.05 — 2008.12.19


In the flesh

The bit of information we have about God becoming a baby says a truckload about what kind of God that would have to be.  Those moments, the first ones, of coming through the birth canal and onto a bed of hay, speak of love.  There is the love-that-so-loved that He sent, but to take on the skin of the very ones you’ve watched since Eden-that’s a different kind of love.

I understand jealousy.  I have loved others and felt the boundary of their skin.  We cannot be anyone else. However, there have been many times that, given the chance, I would have gotten into the skin of another.  Love sometimes does this to us; we lose perspective.  And I wonder if God loses perspective with us because of love.

There’s the thought that Jesus walked around with a cool indifference, a calm assurance of knowing what it was like to be a person anyway.  But in all of history, it was the first time God became human, right?  A new thing.  Could it be that the incarnation had the trinity all heady and in a tailspin? 

Inside the flesh of another is the talk of obsession.  It speaks of too close for comfort and a watching that would be considered slightly creepy.  The great impression humanity gets of God in Heaven is a removed figure who watches, if the song has it right, from a distance.  The truth may be harder to swallow.

God watching you while you walk away and talk to your friends.  God distracted by your presence in the room.  God interrupted by thoughts of you when someone else tries to get His attention.  You turn to Him and remind Him again that you don’t like when He reads over your shoulder, it’s annoying.  He’s barely listening because He’s near to the one He exists for.

I’ve read that if you think that God’s love is the motivating factor for your salvation, you’re wrong; it is the cross.  God is Holy, demanding a perfect sacrifice, and so your salvation is set upon nothing else.  But I don’t know.  Incarnation is the stuff of fairy tales and wizard lore.  Becoming something else, and lower besides, never made anyone seem uninterested.  The cross couldn’t have been without the experiential birth of the baby. 

If you’ve ever loved a baby, then you’ve wondered at the luxury of being in that role.  You do nothing and the world adores you.  You make messes and people bathe you.  You enter into the realm of the human with fanfare and with the ability to bend wills formerly made of iron.  When that role was taken on by The Holy One of Israel, I imagine great pleasure was had to finally be in the skin of the beloved.

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