The last blog was focused on the incarnation as an act of divine acceptance of the human race as we are in our profound confusion. Without approving of what happened in Adam, and without being in denial about it, the Lord, in His everlasting commitment to share His abounding life with us, became what we are. Before creation the Father, Son and Spirit dreamed of our adoption. Unto this end the universe and humanity were called into being, and the Lord entered into real relationship with Adam and Eve. Believing the lie of the evil one opened the door for darkness and alienation to enter Adam’s world, ruining all possibility of relationship between Adam and the Lord.
The first response of the Lord was simple acceptance (without approval) of what had happened. Then came His clothing of his terrified creatures. And recall that I said the clothing of Adam and Eve was never about God and some divine need to be appeased. The clothing was about the afflicted and terrorized conscience of Adam and Eve. For there can be no real relationship, and thus no real sharing of life, when fear and hiding dominate Adam’s fallen mind. For John, the incarnation involves the Lord’s acceptance of the fallen world, and it involves a stunning move toward real identification. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” That is to say, the Father’s son not only became human, but so entered into our fallen world as to establish relationship with us as fallen creatures. He entered into Adam’s fallen mind, identifying with the way Adam, and the human race at large, see things.
The sharing of life is the point, which necessitates real relationship, which in turn necessitates that we must find a way into God’s life, or the Lord must find a way to into ours. Acceptance is the first step. Identification is the next. We are capable of neither. So the Lord is his abounding grace, as Irenaeus said nearly 19 centuries ago, became what we are (Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John, the disciple of Jesus).
Identification, like acceptance, does not mean approval. It means that one person so desires to share life with another (which is the trinitarian way of being) that she or he is willing to enter into the other person’s way of thinking, seeing and believing (without necessarily approving of them at all), even into the other’s way of seeing themselves. For John, that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” means that the Father’s Son has identified with us in our profound darkness, especially with our grotesque confusion about his Father. There are few words more terrible than “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” Yet that is exactly what the Father’s Son did. He entered not only into our world, but into our darkness and dastardly broken way of seeing, believing and thinking, and there he was terribly rejected, exactly as He knew He would be. Think about it. This is not naïve divine denial. Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit knew what we would do—reject Jesus—and Jesus embraced our rejection, deliberately and astonishingly allowing Himself to be cursed and damned by His own creation. And—and the existence of the universe hangs on this and—in allowing Himself to be cursed by His own creation, He met us in our sickness, and He brought His Father and the Holy Spirit with Him.
So then, the Father, Son and Spirit (and their shared life, love and fellowship) have not only accepted us in our terrible sin, but have so made their way into our craziness that their shared life now dwells in our brazen, wrongheaded rejection. Jesus’ way of seeing and believing and thinking has set up shop inside our darkness. His own relationship with His Father, and His own relationship with the Holy Spirit have—through His enduring of our bitter scorn—pitched their tent inside our hell. Acceptance. Identification. Determined love. Real relationship. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.