Do you ever wonder at this time of year: So, what was in it for God?
Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity Dec. 25. It isn’t just any nativity, though; it is the Nativity – the birth of the eternal Son of God.
Now, let’s be honest enough to say that such a thought is harder to grasp than most. Even people who sing carols and light candles in church during this season feign credulity more often than they admit. God becoming human pushes the mind’s limits, matched only perhaps by creedal claims like the resurrection of Jesus from the dead or the creation of the world from nothing.
Yet for those who wonder long enough about this mystery that they wander into it and construe the world by it, faith leads to understanding rather than the other way around. Such believers get the “top down” order of things. While many things can be understood from the bottom up, scientifically speaking, even those things have a kind of given-ness about them that suggests a Giver. Why is there something and not nothing?
Before things can be known, they must be knowable. This is part and parcel of the Christian claim of Christmas truth. God makes God knowable by coming among us as one of us. God reveals to us what God is like from the inside out instead of the outside in.
But what was in it for God?
You can say that God did it out of love, that God took our plight in pity in order to release us from the throes of sin and sadness. That’s all quite one-directional, however, even if true.
What if there is something more to it that we hardly dare imagine? What if God becoming human also means that something new happened for God – something glorious and perilous at the same time? What if by making God’s self known to us, God got the pleasure of being known by us? And what if by sharing our sorrows, God got to experience our joys at the same time?
Love returned is love complete. The God who loves wants to be loved as much as to love. The God who knows wants to be known as much as to know.
Christmas is as much a feast for God as for us. You might set an extra place at the table this year as a gracious reminder.
Merry Christmas, God.