Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dependence Day

As I've mentioned before, each Advent/Christmas season it seems as though the Lord has a particular facet of the nativity and incarnation about which he wants to enlighten me. For weeks, verses, sermons, songs, pictures, and comments will come to my attention focused on one aspect of the coming of Christ. Sometimes, it's a character: like when I played Mary in our church pageant. Experiencing the emotion and crisis of faith through her eyes was deeply moving for me. Sometimes it's about his character: like the year I was confounded by his mercy. Sometimes it's about my character: like the year I recognized selfish attitudes creeping into my giving. Sometimes it's about biblical veracity: like last year when I considered the foretold and incredibly accurate prophecies surrounding Jesus' coming. Then sometimes it's about theological doctrine. Deep stuff, but nonetheless applicable for real life. That's what it is this year.

Last night at our Ladies Ministry Teacup Exchange I had the privilege of singing and playing Chris Rice's Welcome to Our World. For more than a week, I've been mulling over the lyrics and considering them in light of scripture. The theological implications have staggered my mind. My favorite lines from the song are these:
Fragile fingers sent to heal us, tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us - unto us is born, unto us is born.
So wrap our injured flesh around you, breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy, perfect Son of God.
Having a newborn in our home this year definitely heightened my awareness of the incredible dependency of humanity. We think we are so self-sufficient, so invulnerable. As we mature, pride and egocentricity tear down opportunities for recognizing our inadequacy on a day-by-day basis.

Even my goofy dog reminded me of that this week. Anxiously standing by the door to come in from outside, he couldn't do for himself. He was literally incapable of opening the door. I mentioned to Darin how helpless a feeling it must be to not be able to even enter a room; to be so dependent upon another for even getting from point A to point B. Immediately I was struck with the thought of our omnipotent, powerful God choosing to humble himself (see Phil 2:5-8) to the form of humanity. But not just any form of humanity - a newborn, an infant. And here's the theological part: The independent, dependable God chose to become dependent upon an undependable creation. He needed someone to change and feed him, clothe and bathe him; to teach him to walk. He needed others to teach him language, reading and math. (Hey, as the son a carpenter, he definitely learned math, which only further proves Heb. 2:17-18 - he does understand our suffering!)

As an adult, Jesus needed others to do their jobs of making bread, milking animals, tending sheep, catching fish, manufacturing textiles and pottery and constructing clothing and buildings. He even depended upon the religious authorities - corrupt though they were - to lead in worship. He needed people, the same way I do. I am not a self-sufficient creation. And like Jesus, not only do I need what others can do, I need them. Who they are. Their very persons, personalities and characters. Relationships. Not in a creepy, co-dependency way, but in a genuine exchange of life lived together on this planet. Most days, I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like, what it is to know genuine relationship without pretending to be "best-friends" with everybody (a true impossibility), but I know it begins with authenticity and honesty. Two things Jesus was really good at. Oh, and there was a third thing he was really good at: forgiveness. Even though he knew they would screw up, fail him, disappoint him and ultimately hang him on a tree, he still chose to live with and love on them. And hanging from that cross, he cried out for their forgiveness and mine (Luke 23:34).

So how do I apply all this theological stuff? Daily practice authentic, honest relationships. First with him, and second, with each and every person he puts in my path. (I'm warning you, though, I'm gonna goof this up real well some days.)

Various nations around the world celebrate Independence Days, yet the day Christ was born was his Dependence Day. And he has been dependent upon this unreliable creation of humanity ever since. Even today, he depends upon me to share with others that salvation comes through him alone and to disciple believers in the truths of his word. He is bound to us as only a Servant King can be.

Welcome to our world.

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