Today we move to the gospel according to John, which begins with the famous words of John's prologue - "In the beginning was the Word." Every year during the season of Christmas we hear these words proclaimed and we are reminded once again of the great mystery and miracle of the incarnation. But as with many famous biblical passages, there is the tendency for us to become overly familiar with this text and, as a result, we hear John's announcement as beautiful poetry rather than the history-changing announcement of God's mission to the world that it is.
The Word Dwelt Among Us
The Greek word that is translated "dwelt" literally means "to set up a tent." In other words, the incarnation is not simply about God "visiting" earth, but rather about God coming to "dwell" among his people. Eugene Peterson, author of "The Message," translates John 1:14 as the following - "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood!" In the past, God had manifested his presence to his people in the tabernacle (tent) and the temple. Now God takes up residence among his people in the incarnate Word. Jesus is God-with-us. He has entered into the reality of our daily lives in order to transform us and to offer us the gift of abundant life.
The faith we have received is an incarnational faith. It is a faith that is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. We are told by the author of Hebrews that Jesus was tempted in every way as are. We have a Savior and Lord who can sympathize with our weakness. The poetic words of the prologue of John are a beautiful description of the eternal plan and purpose of God, but they also serve as a reminder that Jesus, the eternal Word of God, entered into the chaos and brokenness of our lives in order to bring healing, forgiveness, and transformation. Jesus didn't just drop in for a visit, he "moved into the neighborhood!"
If Jesus entered into the reality of lives (the good, the bad, and the ugly!), then shouldn't we be willing to enter into the lives of those in our own neighborhoods and local communities who need to know and experience the love and grace of God? If Jesus, the eternal Son of God, wasn't afraid to "roll up his sleeves" and get involved in the lives of people, why are Christians so often found hiding behind the walls of the church, unwilling to get involved in the real lives of those living in our local neighborhoods and communities. How is God calling you to live more incarnationally?