Friday, December 7, 2012

The Test

He had to become like His brothers and sisters in every respect, so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest. (Hebrews 2.17)

In Miracles, C.S. Lewis repeatedly returns to the Incarnation as the standard by which all other divine manifestations are measured. “Everywhere the great enters the little—its power to do so is almost the test of its greatness,” he writes. As one ponders his statement, the “almost” becomes inescapable. The greatness of love borne in Mary’s womb cannot be exaggerated. Yet its arrival in the tiny frame of a vulnerable, speechless, Infant is dumbfounding. Surely there must be a bigger test that captures the scale of God’s power. We want something larger than life to prove the enormity of God’s grace and faithfulness—something so utterly overwhelming and definitive that we can’t possibly mistake it for anything else.

But the Incarnation epitomizes God’s baffling ability to display unequaled mercy and might as “the great enters the little.” If we are ever to know—as the angel tells Mary—that nothing shall be impossible with God, we have to recalibrate our expectations of how God works and moves and reasons. God does great and wondrous works in little, ordinary ways. What looks like a newborn is God’s offer of new life. The little Child who seems so reliant on us at first will redeem us and reconcile us to our Creator. The powerless Babe with no home will establish God’s kingdom on earth.

Almost—we almost get it. But we can never fully comprehend the simplicity of God’s great plan. We’re wonderstruck that God would choose so tiny a vessel from which to pour out unconditional love and unfathomable forgiveness. The test for us is whether or not we truly believe what we’re seeing.

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