A central belief in Christianity is the incarnation of deity as a human being. This is more than “God within us”, which is easy to accept. It is easy because anything we don’t like we can say is not part of that, and what we do like we claim to “recognize” as God, God-nature, or at the very least, Grace. It’s like being made “in His image” but with plenty of fine print. Caveats. Limited warranties.
What is harder to accept is that as we strive toward some sense of perfection, the incarnation — the Christmas message — is about God striving toward an imperfect condition, toward us. Was Jesus of Nazareth a perfect baby? That is an assumption that doesn’t even glance our conscious awareness. But what does that mean? To some, he must have never cried. To others he assuredly had blue eyes and a full head of hair from the start. We have to wonder if the Christ child even pooped.
Let’s take this further. Why can’t Jesus have been not only like the best of the best of us in every way, but in some ways average or even as lowly as the “worst” of us? Could the Savior of Mankind have had bad breath? Could the King of Kings have spoken with a lisp? Have one leg shorter than the other? Be nearsighted? Autistic?
What would be the point of being among us, as one of us, if only in name or some vague way? Would God be so pretentious or patronizing?
Maybe we should see God in ourselves in all the ways God reached out to live as we live, even as a slave, tortured, betrayed, feared, hated, rejected, and killed. Maybe this is why God chose to belong in the company of lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors, at least as much as fishermen, centurions, and Pharisees. Maybe that is the whole point of the Good News and who is truly our neighbor.
The next time you look in the mirror, or deep within those places you dare not look, don’t judge yourself, lest you disrespect what God chose to become, his own beloved creation in all its divine imperfections.
Don’t just see the smile in the front of it all, or the talents you are proud of, or the good deeds you were capable of. See the crying baby that makes a mess and is at the mercy of others for its every need. See the one who is tempted, stumbles, suffers, is abused. It doesn’t matter if you lack some ability, or are bipolar, or have cancer, or can’t seem to do anything right or gain the approval of others. The dual acts of Creation and Incarnation teach us that all those things, too, are in the Image of God.