Oh Baby God!


The incarnation is irrational.

Here is The Almighty Creator, vulnerable as a baby.

Here is The Great I Am, in need of a diaper change.

Yahweh himself learning obedience, being submissive as a teenager, and working a 9-5 for minimum wage in the wood-shop.

Oh Baby God! Growing to be a humble, kind, tender, willing to die for scumbags… human.

In this age of power and superiority, of wanting more than we need, of trying to get to thrones instead of leaving them, God The Baby Is The God We Need.

And Incarnation is our invitation.

“God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus.We have not always known what God is like— But now we do.” – Brian Zahnd

Yes, we thought God would be more powerful, more dominant, hungrier to prove Himself. But then Jesus came and he was more concern with healing the sick, and feeding the poor and befriending the worst.

When people thought lepers where being punish by God, God came around and touched them. Healed them. Loved them.

When people thought celebrities were the right people for God to use, God came around and chose fishermen, and tax collectors and prostitutes. He trained them. He believed in them. And he showed them a superior Kingdom.

When people thought that God was angry and disappointed with humanity, God became a human baby. Lived a human life. Died a human death. And kept his human body.

God showed up and forgave the sins that shouldn’t be forgiven. He loved the unlovables just as much as he loved children. Instead of destroying the Romans he ended up healing their servants. And he denied the temptation of using Caesar’s power to change the world.

Instead of being like we wanted him to be, he was less religious, less of a war-monger, less sectarian, less like me.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

One time I kissed a hitman.

He had teardrops tattooed all over his face, some representing a successful murder and others representing being raped in jail. And he was standing in front of me (so close) that I could count each and everyone of them.

It was at the end of preaching to a huge crowd in Medellin, Colombia; after praying and talking with hundreds of people, that's when the hitman approached me crying.

He told me the story of his life. How abuse in his home lead to finding safety in a gang, and how his criminal family turned him into a Sicario before he was even a man. He told me that he had been involved in more murders than he could count and how the drug cartels wanted to keep him because of his accuracy and cold-heartedness.

Yet throughout the weekend he had heard me preaching on the love of God and his heart was melting in the furnace of grace. In most of my sessions I shared how Jesus came to reveal the Father of Luke 15, a father who runs to the prodigal, kisses the prodigals, embraces the prodigal and then celebrates him publicly. Whenever I preach this story I deliberately choose a man from the crowd to re-enact the action-filled scene. I ask them to go to the furthest point of whatever room we’re in and then I shout Luke 15:21, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” I then wildly run towards the acting prodigal to hug him and smooch him, profusely.

The assassin in attendance had watch this reenactment in my last preach and had not stopped crying since. But I was soooo ready to have dinner and go back to the hotel room. I was even more ready to have a late siesta and enjoy the victories of the weekend. I was not ready for what happened next.

While he was still telling me the story of his past, I interrupted him without asking and began to kiss the teardrops on his face. I have no clue what came over me, I just had to kiss him, and them. He cried harder and harder and harder, and then collapsed on the floor. He might have fallen to escape the kisses of the 31-year-old Puerto Rican preacher, but it looked more than an escape. It felt like surrender.

Then, his two young daughters came running towards him as he laid on the floor. They sat next to him and laid their hands on his chest. They were praying beautiful things like, “God, thank you for our papito” “Thank you for forgiving him” “Thank you for his freedom.”

I started 😭

For a long time I stood there, watching the trinity of redemption before me. And there I was reminded again of the ridiculousness of grace.

God became a human, to love the crazy humans, to be one of the hurting humans, to show grace to all the humans.

Oh yes, the incarnation is irrational and grace is ridiculous.

Also, kinda unfair.

But somehow the Righteous Judge makes it work. Like the Bible says, "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to ALL people."

For you.
For me.
For them.
So (beautifully) unfair.

  

Seriously, in the deepest part of me, I want God to hate the people I hate. I want him to be OK with the sins I don’t consider a big deal. I want God to vote like me, sound like me, and go to the church I’m in. And I want God to be more latino.

NT Wright explained it like this: “This is the really scary thing… not that Jesus might be identified with a remote, lofty, imaginary being, but that God, the real God, the one true God, might actually look like Jesus… a shrewd Palestinian Jewish villager who drank wine with his friends, agonized over the plight of his people, taught in strange stories and pungent aphorisms, and was executed by the occupying forces. To say that Jesus is in some sense God is of course to make a startling statement about Jesus. It is also to make a stupendous claim about God.”

There are a lot of things I love about God. But there are also a lot of things I find very difficult to embrace, e.g. put the other cheek, forgive 70×7, wash people’s feet, heal the sick and so on.

They are not difficult to embrace because I don’t believe in them (I kind of have to because I’m a pastor and God said them) it’s more like I am terrible at them.

I have a problem with this version of God (the humble, kind, tender, willing to die for scumbags one).

But Jesus is the only legitimate version there is.

So what I truly have is a problem with me.

God will not change.

I guess I’ll have to.

I guess, we’ll have to.

Feliz Navidad.

"The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken."

― Frederick Buechner, Faces of Jesus

 

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Carlos A. Rodríguez is a pastor, an activist, and a communicator. He's the CEO of The Happy NPO and the author of Simply Sonship, Drop The Stones and the upcoming Proximity. Together with his wife Catherine, they have three gorgeous children and have moved to Puerto Rico to continue relief efforts all over the Caribbean (post hurricane Irma and Maria).
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