– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator
COVID has changed things in my world – travel, shopping, meetings, potlucks, etc. But one thing it hasn’t been able to change is that I cannot thrive without human “in-person” connection. And it has caused me to ask a lot of questions I had never even wondered about before.
- Is virtual connection “enough”?
- Do we need to experience the actual presence of others, or can we serve one another virtually?
- Should my handicapped sister be forced to live without hugs in order to maintain social distance?
All these questions get back to a foundational question – Was Christ’s Incarnation necessary? Couldn’t God, as Ruler of the Cosmos, have figured out a way to “zoom” our salvation virtually to us? Or did He really NEED to become one of us in the flesh, walk in our shoes, actually experience our struggles, and die a physical death?
It is dawning on me that the Incarnation was essential. Christ needed to actually BE present in our world and become one of us, in order for us to become more like Him. Or, as Athanasius said in the 4th century, “He became what we are that He might make us what He is.” Isn’t there something powerful about the concept of unadulterated identification, and Jesus jumping into the vat of despair with us – rather than just tossing us a sandwich with some tips on survival?
In her popular YouTube video on empathy, Brené Brown gave an example of someone overwhelmed and stuck in a dark, deep hole calling out for help. I can choose to shout out from the top and ask what I can do to help. Or I can climb down and be with them and say, “I know what it’s like down here and you’re not alone.” That is a part of incarnational presence – being willing to BE THERE and go through the hot mess with you; so, you aren’t going through it alone.
The immortal, invisible, all-wise God took on the cocoon of a human womb and put on flesh to BE in my world, so that I would never be disconnected or abandoned or alone. No surprise that the Enemy’s counterattack is to isolate, divide, destroy, scare, and fragment.
Chuck Swindoll said it this way:
Emmanuel. God with us. He who resides in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety.
Maybe I need to find creative ways to climb in the hole and BE with people in the midst of a scary pandemic? “And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us…” (I John 1:14) hmmm, should I put flesh around this concept and Be Present with my neighbors, my church, my world? What is the cost if I don’t? My elderly neighbor is too scared to leave her house, but maybe I can take her mail to her and stand at her garage and chat with her while 6-feet away? And my sister thinks that life-without-hugs is a life not worth living. Maybe she’s on to something… what if presence matters?
One Step Further:
- Who are you struggling to connect with during this season?
- In what ways is God calling you to be present with them and with others?
- What are some ways you can “be present” with those God has called you to, even when you cannot actually be there physically?