To appreciate the Incarnation we must think in terms of infinity. God is infinite. This means he has no boundaries, no limits, no stopping point in any of his attributes. This is one of the reasons that God is a Spirit, that he has no physical properties. If he did they would render him finite “When we say that God is infinite,” wrote A.W. Tozer, “we mean that He knows no bounds. Whatever God is and all that God is, he is without limit…To say that God is infinite is to say that He is measureless ”
“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust…All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness”(Isaiah 40:15–17).
The nations, a “drop from a bucket?” Think about it. That mean the seven billion people currently alive on planet earth are only like one solitary drop from a bucket that at one time held millions of drops.
But it gets worse. Isaiah tells us that the nations are only “fine dust” on God’s scales. What does dust weigh? Essentially nothing. It is irrelevant. It cannot move the scales up or down. It is meaningless.
Isaiah continues. All the nations past, present, and future are “accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.” How can anything be less than nothing and emptiness? Emptiness is a low point. But less than emptiness, less than nothing? That we cannot imagine.
But we are not emptiness. We are real flesh and blood people, all seven billion of us. So why did Isaiah write this? He knows we are finite, and anything finite is of almost meaningless compared to something infinite, and God is infinite.
I am not writing this to depress you. You need this information to appreciate the Incarnation. To the degree that sin becomes bitter grace will become sweet. To the degree that we see ourselves for who we really are the Incarnation becomes utterly astounding. It is because we think so highly of ourselves that the Incarnation has so little impact on us.
If Jesus Christ is God, and if he descended down from an infinitely glorious status to take to himself a finite human nature, then it follows that his descent was an infinite emptying. He travelled an infinite distance downward. This is the measure of God’s love for small, insignificant, finite creatures like you and me. And it is because of this that Paul describes God’s love in infinite terms. He calls it “love…that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).
Here is how John Flavel, one of the great seventeenth century Puritan preachers, tried to grapple with this truth—
“For the sun to fall from its sphere, and be degraded into a wandering atom; for an angel to be turned out of heaven, and be converted into a silly fly or worm, had been no such great abasement; for they were but creatures before, and so they would abide still, though in an inferior order or species of creatures. The distance betwixt the highest and lowest species of creatures, is but a finite distance. The angel and the worm dwell not so far apart. But for the infinite glorious Creator of all things, to become a creature, is a mystery exceeding all human understanding. The distance between God and the highest order of creatures, is an infinite distance.”
Here is the love of God. Christ descended an infinite distance to atone for sins infinitely serious in God’s sight.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
As we will see, the results are predictable. Many men are increasingly insecure about what it means to be masculine. What does society expect of me? Is chivalry sexist? Should I hold the door for her, or should she hold the door for me?
In her article, “The End of Men,” recently published in the Atlantic Magazine, Hanna Rosin chronicles a symptom of this growing male insecurity. Men are increasingly withdrawing from socially productive commitments.
The implications for culture are momentous. We will develop them in future posts.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Stacked on the display tables are various life “choices.” The ladies begin to fill their baskets. On one table is a stack of college diplomas. Another, labeled “significant other,” contains pictures of handsome, eligible men. Another shelf boasts pictures of tropical vacation destinations. Then a beautiful brunette passes a stork with a cloth bundle representing a baby. The stork moves towards her, but with a smile she shakes her head and turns away. She puts a “trip to Paris” in her basket instead. The scene closes with another woman putting a new home in her basket. This ad expresses several assumptions about the ideal contemporary female.
• She is a well-educated professional.
• Even though she is in her late twenties or early thirties, she is still single.
• She is in control of her life. She doesn’t need a man or family.
• Her priorities are material and vocational. They are not maternal.
• Yes, she is interested in “relationships,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean marriage or children.
Here is the bottom line. Our culture’s plan for today’s successful woman does not prioritize marriage, parenting, or family. At the root of this is a more fundamental denial of the differences between men and women. This denial has produced a growing reluctance to marry; the decoupling of sex from commitment; a radical growth in the number of illegitimate births; and the gradual withdrawal of men from leadership and responsibility.
This post, and the ones to follow, contend that marriage and family, as biblically defined, matters greatly. In the words of Cicero (106-43 BC) “Prima societas in ipso conjugio est,” The first bond of society is marriage. Since this is true, the church should be a showcase of healthy, holy, happy marriage and family life.
More on these specific issues to follow tomorrow.
We are locked in a mortal spiritual conflict, the roots of which go back to Genesis chapter three. Human sexuality has always been fundamental to this conflict. We are currently in a life and death struggle over the nature of family, what it means to be male and female, the willingness to have children, and God’s intention for human sexuality. The flourishing of the church rides on the outcome. Although the conflict has raged since the beginning, the intensity has differed from generation to generation. I contend that its current ferocity is unparalleled in human history.
The church does not exist in a vacuum. We live in the crucible of a fallen world. So, in order to understand the pressures that seek to conform us into its image, this post, and those that follow in the next few days, will explore the fruits of this"toxic brew," the degree to which the church has imbibed its poison, and the cost of compromise...