Incarnation Still Matters
Blog Contributor Amanda Opelt shares about the discouragement she's felt during a time in our history when so many things seem to be difficult. But she has hope that God is with us in our greatest hour of need. God incarnate still matters; He is still moving among us. Let’s not miss it.
By Amanda Opelt, Blog Contributor
I get discouraged sometimes.
Frankly, I’m one of those people who wants everyone to get along. I prefer straightforward answers to simple questions. I like when things are clearly right or wrong, cut and dry. I like neat categories. I want an obvious protagonist to root for and an indisputable antagonist to contest. Complexity exhausts me, cognitive dissonance wears me down.
So you can imagine, I’ve been especially weary lately.
I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I feel like things have never been more contentious, never been so polarizing, never been so loud, never been so hate-filled and vicious as they are now. Everything is politicized. Suffering abounds.
Perhaps heatedly arguing with one another is the only way to distract ourselves from our despair? It’s enough to make you think God has packed His bags and has taken a prolonged vacation during this particular moment in our history.
Is it just me? Am I the only one overwhelmed by it all? Am I missing something?
We've Seen This Before
Does this cultural context sound familiar to you? Do you recognize it from the nightly news or daily social media scrolls?
A culture where some want to overthrow the government while some want to bow down to it.
A culture where countless babies are sacrificed on the altar of pride or personal ambition.
A culture where racism and injustice are pervasive.
A culture of idolatry and religious elitism and exclusion.
A culture where people argue about how to treat refugees.
A culture where money matters way more than it should.
A culture where leaders sometimes ask the question, “What even is truth?”
If this does sound familiar to you, let me share something that encourages me: This is exactly the culture that Jesus was born into. Take heart. Jesus knows this context well.
Narrowly escaping death in the wake of an entire community’s generation of baby boys murdered by Herod, Jesus fled to Egypt as an asylum-seeker and returned only to face the oppression of the Roman government and the oppression of a religious system that had totally missed the point.
His whole life, he was surrounded by greed, tribalism, power-hungry leaders, political uprisings, and broken justice systems. On the day of his death, when Jesus declared at his trial “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me,” his judge only replied cynically, “What is truth?”
The Way, The Truth, The Light
Take heart—this is when and where God moved mightily in our midst once again. The fresh wind of the Spirit stirred; repentance and renewal and revival broke out. This is the origin story of the church as we know it. This is our heritage, this is our storyline, this is the story of Christianity.
In what felt like a “post-truth” world, where no one could agree on what is right and wrong, Jesus declared that He was the way, the truth, and the light—not merely a series of lofty dogmas or principles, not just a set of talking points.
Jesus provides a way of being in the world. His life is a light by which we see the world.
This is why the incarnation of Christ matters so much. He steps directly into our mess to be with us, to walk and live with us in the midst of imperfection. He shows us how to be, moment by moment.
Yoke yourself exclusively to a political movement or build your identity entirely around a national identity, and you will surely lose your way at some point. Be yoked to Jesus and He will help you carry this enormous load. He will help you bear the task of daily seeking out the good and the right. He will tether you to wisdom, soundness of mind, grace, and peace.
Struggle is Sanctification
I get discouraged sometimes. But I have hope.
I believe that God is winnowing us, melting and molding us down in the midst of all of this. It’s a painful process. The struggle is part of the sanctification process. We don’t always get it right. God is patient with us; He tutors us. I think He is asking us to watch. To pray. To eagerly await what the Holy Spirit might do.
God incarnate still matters, is still moving among us. Let’s not miss it.
This context may be dark and unfamiliar to me. But God is intimately acquainted with the dark. He’s been there before, and He’ll go there again. And He will overcome it.
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