The Need for Christ's Humanity
Photo: Closing worship for Bread for the World's Lobby Day 2011, held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
By Dr. Gregg A. Okesson
Christmas may be over, but the incarnation has just begun.
During the time between Christmas and Easter each year, I try to immerse myself in the Gospels. I read the words, teachings, and narratives till the life of Christ saturates every pore of my being, permeating my mind, flooding my emotions, even capturing my imagination.
I find I need Christ’s humanity more than ever this year.
The Newtown massacre seems like it was a horrible nightmare that hit the nation with a thunderous shock. After 13 years of living in Africa, the materialism of an American Christmas still echoes with hollow reverberations in my mind; a time filled with canned Muzak and ubiquitous “sales” that place us in a sleepwalking slumber. Meanwhile, the fiscal cliff talks droned on, with the vulnerable being pushed ever closer to the precipice, as if they never existed.
Where is Christ’s humanity amid a society unraveling at every turn?
God works to redeem the world from the inside out. While all around us roar the voices of an insane world, seemingly careening out of control, God works to re-web the world, sometimes in shouts, more often in whispers.
Let me share one experience I had recently that spoke to me of the humanity of Christ.
At the end of November, some 30 faith leaders from around the country came to Bread for the World headquarters to spend a day in advocacy on behalf of the needs of the poor. We spent much of the day meeting with members of Congress, talking with key staff members, and building relationships with others of diverse ecclesiastical backgrounds.
Washington is used to lobbyists, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at our rag-tag crew. It wasn’t that we lacked polish, but we carried none of the money, political savvy, or allegiances that so often adorn the halls of the Capitol. We came not with prestige, but only with our humanity, pleading on behalf of others around the world who bear the same ascription. And it was the humanity of the meetings that impacted me the most.
While we were told that the members of Congress would give us 15 minutes of their time, I was in no meeting for less than 40. Most seemed almost relieved to talk to us, as if we represented something sane in an insane world. And then we prayed for them, infusing humanity with God’s presence. I am not sure I can put it into words, but those visits testified to something wonderfully intimate, deeply personal, and extraordinarily authentic—much like the person of Christ in our midst.
For Christians, the humanity of Christ is never far from us. We may rightfully praise the deity of Christ, or point with eagerness to Easter, with its redemption and resurrection. But the pathway to the cross always goes through our humanity, and in no other way.
And it seems we need Christ’s humanity more than ever this year.
Dr. Gregg A. Okesson is dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Seminary.
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