Which God did Jesus Incarnate?
I hope that the title/question got your attention and got you thinking?
Advent is quickly fading into Christmas. This Sunday I'll be preaching from Matthew 1, Matthews version of the announcement of Jesus' birth, and we'll sing more Christmas than Advent hymns. But as we prepare ourselves for the Feast of Christmas, a day on which we not only exchange presents and enjoy a hearty meal, but consider that God has become present to and with us in Jesus Christ, what we call incarnation, enfleshment, what is the nature of this God?
This is a significant question raised by John Dominic Crossan in his recent book on the Lord's Prayer that is entitled The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of The Lord's Prayer (personal note, my book on the Lords' Prayer that is just coming available tracks in similar directions as Crossan regarding the prayer). Near the close of the book, Crossan notes that the biblical story portrays God in both violent and non-violent ways, and quite correctly he notes that this isn't an OT/NT divide. Because there are these two very stark differences in portrayals of God in both Testaments, we have to make a choice. As we look at Jesus, what kind of God does he incarnate?
Confronted, as we are, by tandem visions of both a nonviolent and a nonviolent God throughout our Bible, we simply ask ourselves another question. Is Christ the incarnation and revelation of a nonviolent or a violent God? Since Jesus the Christ was clearly nonviolent (thank you at least for that correct judgment, Pilate), we Christians are called to believe in a nonviolent God. (The Greatest Prayer, p. 187).
As we get ready to celebrate the feast of the Incarnation, we're posed with a serious question, and the way we answer that question will likely have important implications as to how we live out our faith.