God With Skin On

Since the Council of Nicaea the global church has strongly affirmed that Jesus was fully human and fully Divine. Certainly this seasons of Advent and Christmas uphold the Divinity of Jesus. That he was born a tiny, vulnerable baby in humble circumstances notwithstanding, in his advent and birth we declare that he is nonetheless, God-with-us, the eternal Word become flesh, full of grace and truth. The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. All honor glory and power be unto him! The little child is heralded by angels, worshipped by shepherds and kings alike. This season puts on view the stunning spectacle of the God of the Universe taking on human flesh. Fully God, yes.

And fully human. Incarnate. God with skin on. Fully human. Have you noticed that we use the fact that we’re human mostly as an excuse – as in, “I’m only human.” By that we mean, of course, that we’re not perfect, we mess things up on a regular basis, we’re flawed and broken and hurting and hurtful. That is what it means to be human and if you don’t know that, you can throw the first stone. We’re flawed beings. That is true enough.

But is it true enough? If Jesus is truly human then he reveals something else about human being. It turns out that being human does not let us off the hook for living our lives in right relationship with God and others as Jesus did. The truly human being that Jesus embodied has at her disposal the same repertoire that Jesus had – laughing, weeping, healing, touching, blessing, standing up against the powers that be for the sake of the weak, suffering for love’s sake, courageously standing alongside all that is hurting and imperfect, teaching, praying, multiplying gifts, casting out demons, breaking bread, I don’t know, maybe even walking on water (I’ve seen human beings walk through rivers of sorrow with poise and dignity so it’s not even that much of a stretch). Jesus wasn’t capable of that because he was God. He was capable of it because he was human. If Jesus is truly human then that is what we are capable of, too.

And the world is in desperate need for the church – you and me – to be faithful to perhaps what is our highest calling of all. To be fully human. Like Jesus.

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