God Become Like Us
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
So it is Christmas once again. The lights are up, the trees decorated, and Frank Sinatra is again crooning on our car radios. For several weeks of the year, even mainstream radio speaks of a baby born to bring peace on earth. And just in case we have not gotten the message, evangelicals are picking up their axes, ready to fight against red cups, happy holidays, and family trees so that we do not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Yet despite these constant reminders of the meaning of Christmas, we might still be in danger of missing the point. The Nativity narrative has become so commonplace, we are in danger of forgetting what makes it extraordinary.
During Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation of God Himself. The Apostle John tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4). The Creator of all things has stepped down from His throne as King of all that is to become a creature like us. The eternal Son of God has become a part of our world and has contained Himself in a body, the same as us. He has moved into our neighborhood and pitched His tent among us. It is almost as if Beethoven has become one of his symphonies or J. R. R. Tolkien has joined the Fellowship of the Ring.
There is a great Greek word that helps us grasp the depth of what has happened in the Christmas story; "homoousios". Homoousios means "of one substance" or to put it simply, "made up of the same stuff". The word first entered ordinary Christian vocabulary in the fourth century at the Council of Nicaea where the Church debated if Christ was truly God. The Church affirmed that He was and they used the word "homoousios" to describe their confession that Jesus, the Son of God, is of one substance, is made of the same stuff, and possesses the same divine nature as God the Father. Over a hundred years later, when the Church met at the Council of Chalcedon to help clarify how we are to understand how Christ is both God and man, they decided to use the same word. They affirmed He is homoousios with God the Father, and is also homoousios, made up of the same stuff, as us. On Christmas, God became like us in order to restore our relationship with Him so that we might become like Him.
So as we go through this Christmas season, and are troubled by the violence, suffering, and hatred in this world, we know that God cares about what is going on around us. He has created this world and has decided to dwell with us. He has become like us, and is at work to make us like Him, to fill us with love rather than hatred for our neighbors, and to bring us peace with God and each other.