By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
There’s a song by the Newsboys, “Adoration,” written from the perspective of a shepherd visiting the Baby Jesus. Someone commented it was his favorite Christmas song, because it felt more ‘real’ than any others. “I walk through the mud and straw,” says the shepherd who sees the baby, “through the dust and flies, wrapped in rags like we are.”
In a city where we raised our kids, the rule for their school system was that administrators were required to live within the boundaries of the district. Perhaps that somewhat narrowed the number of candidates who applied, as our neighborhoods were in a transition demographically.
But on the other hand, the adjacent inner-city district was no doubt embarrassed when the newspaper revealed their superintendent was residing in a condo in our district.
William Cameron Townsend was a missionary attempting to bring the Gospel to natives in Guatemala. One of the men asked why, if his God loved him, the Bible wasn’t written in their language. The founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators later wrote, “Understanding Scripture in a language other than the heart language in which we think and experience emotion is like trying to eat soup with a fork. You can get a little taste, but you cannot get nourished.”
The point is that lots of times people think we worship a God who is distant from us. We’re frustrated by righteous folks who have pat answers for every problem, who seem to have no point of identification for the workaday problems we’re experiencing. But Christians believe that the God who created the universe took upon himself the form of man, came to dwell among us, and connects with us in every possible way.
Not only does the Incarnation bring Jesus into our daily lives, his kingdom living involves us. When Lazarus was in the tomb, John chapter 11, Jesus could have rolled the stone away and unwrapped his friend from the graveclothes. But he instead enlisted the help of Lazarus’ friends to do those jobs, that they would have a part in the miracle.
More than 40 times the apostle John makes reference to “the One who was sent” or to God sending Jesus. After the Resurrection, Jesus told the disciples, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21).
The Newsboys’ song has another verse, “He has come down to this barren land where we live, and all I have to give Him is adoration.” By living in the world, yet not becoming part of the world, we serve God by identifying with those in need. We live where they live, work where they work, walk alongside them, speak their language and allow the God of the universe to touch them with human hands.