Incarnate God

I’ve just finished reading The Suffering of God by Terence Fretheim. He is mainly concerned with Old Testament theology, however, his writings about God’s relationship with the world seem to resound with Advent themes.

Whatever may have been the case before the creation of the heavens and the earth, since the creation God has taken up residence within that creation, and thus works from within the world, and not on the world from without.

Fretheim writes about those accounts in the Old Testament when God appears briefly in human form (called ‘theophany’). Though he isn’t talking specifically of Jesus, what he says about God in human form would apply to Jesus’ incarnation as well.

God’s appearance in human form reveals God’s vulnerability. Appearance only associated with storm phenomena could give a quite different impression. It could suggest that God is totally in control of the situation; the only possible responses before God would be fear and dread. But appearance in human form, even in the midst of such phenomena, reveals another perspective. It suggests an entering into the life of the world that is more vulnerable, where the response can be derision or incredulity. It is to put oneself concretely into the hands of the world to do with as it will.

It is revealing of the ways of God that the word is enfleshed in bodies of weakness within the framework of commonplace, everyday affairs, and not in overwhelming power. For even in those instances where the vestments of God’s appearance are threaded with lineaments of power, they clothe a vulnerable form. There is no such thing for Israel as a nonincarnate God.

Do we see God at work in our ‘commonplace, everyday affairs?’ Why would God choose to come with vulnerability, with openness to the freely chosen responses of ordinary people? How do we open ourselves to this kind of God?

For followers of Jesus, what does this kind of vulnerability mean? Do we try to help save the world by removing ourselves and standing apart from it? How far are we willing to go to ‘take up residence’ with others, making ourselves vulnerable to scorn and rejection?

Peace, Karlene


~ by churchplantchat on December 3, 2009.

One Response to “Incarnate God”

  1. That’s nice, thanks.

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