Vol 2:40 The Soul of God: So this is Christmas – Jesus, the Embodiment of God’s Mission

In this Advent season, many wonder who this Jesus, whom we celebrate at Christmas, really is. Jesus is the active participation of God in humanity in order to reconcile humanity to God. This insight is expressed in Ray Anderson’s theological memoir, The Soul of God.

There is something completely unique and completely human about Jesus that embodies and fulfills the mission of God in restoring all of creation. In the fifth chapter of The Soul of God, Ray Anderson relates that “Jesus did not become the Son of God by being anointed with the Spirit of God and by doing the works of God; rather because Jesus is the Son of God, the works which he does testifies to that inner relationship” (p. 69).

It is not only that Jesus is completely unique as God and as human; it is also that God is unique as God and our creation is unique as an act of God.

I recently found a copy of Georg Vicedom’s The Mission of God, which gave expression to the initial understandings of what missio Dei entails, which helps us understand the uniqueness of God.

Vicedom stated:

“Christianity, in contrast to other religions, emphasizes the fact that God created the world and [humankind]. . . . The world is not an effusion of the Deity and thus a part of [God]. Nor did it come into existence through birth. Above all, the world did not originate alongside of [God] or against [God], so that it would thus be a force antagonistic to [God]. There is no dualism or emanationism involved. These types of explanation, familiar to us in other religions are completely out of the picture. With [humanity], the world is the creation of God brought into existence by [God’s] Almighty Word in accordance with [God’s] will. In other words, God has created . . . a ‘Thou,’ and thus a place for activity on [God’s] part. This was already the case before the Fall. The imago Dei can certainly only mean that God created a being which could have fellowship with [God] and therein found life satisfying” (Vicedom, The Mission of God, 15).

Creation is, therefore, a unique act of God, because only God creates – no other gods have created as God creates. And, therefore, since creation is unique to God, incarnation or God coming to participate in our humanity through Jesus Christ is an act that is unique to God in the fulfillment of God’s redemptive mission, so that humanity might be reconciled to God and restored in communion with God. It is because we are unable to understand the uniqueness of God’s creation that we are also unable to fully grasp the unique act of God in becoming a human being, in participating in our humanity – for our benefit. But that is the creative act of Christmas – which we are invited to receive as a gift from God.

As Anderson expresses, “the Apostle Paul proclaimed as a sacrament of salvation, ‘In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things . . .’ (Col. 1:19-20). In the person of Jesus Christ, this double movement took place simultaneously, not sequentially. At every moment during the life of Jesus, the inner being of God was being revealed through the words and actions of Jesus. . . . At the same time, every word and action of Jesus was a movement from below to above, reconciling humanity to God” (p. 71).

And so as John Lennon sings, Happy Christmas (War is Over), with these words:

A very merry Christmas/ And a happy New Year/ Let’s hope it’s a good one/ Without any fear/ And so this is Christmas/ For weak and for strong/ For rich and the poor ones/ The world is so wrong/ And so happy Christmas/ For black and for white/ For yellow and red ones/ Let’s stop all the fight . . .

I pray that we are open to experience the God who creates by receiving God’s participation in our humanity in Jesus, and that we may have eyes that see Jesus and hearts and lives that respond to his words and actions that give life and restore us to live in community with God.

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl