I recently returned from a trip to the east coast where I connected with a church body heavily involved with ministering to the large refugee population in the nearby city. What one girl said struck me. She worked full-time helping tutor children, teach English, move families in, and lead Bible studies. But, she commented, the really dedicated people live there—right in the middle of the dilapidated apartment complex alongside refugees straight from UN refugee camps in some of the roughest places on earth. “Staff normally don’t last long there. It’s hard.”
We tend to romanticize Christ’s incarnation at Christmas, but there was nothing romantic about it. The sacrifice he made descending from heaven to live as a man was far greater than any missionary or humanitarian could make moving into a slum. He left heavens perfection and the perfect, all-satisfying relationship of the godhood to live, not merely as a man (even kingship would have been a far step down from heaven) but as a poor, misunderstood, mocked, suffering man. Nor did he cut corners to make life easier, take sabbaticals, or hype up his ministry in the eyes of others.
Meditating on the raw humility of the incarnation this Christmas should cause two responses in our hearts: worship and humble servanthood. Just as watching my dad stoop down to help a little kid or talk to a handicap guy makes me admire him more, pondering the character of the One who would leave heaven and suffer as a man should cause awe—and thus lead to worship.
And what I admire, I imitate. Wondering at the incarnation should cause me to yearn to be like the incarnate Christ. So unlike Christ, my flesh wants to use anything, even ministry, to make myself look better in the eyes of others. Instead, Christ would have me seek out humble servanthood, the little, everyday ways to die to myself and serve him unnoticed.
Lord, open my eyes today to look to Christ and worship. And may my worship cause a deep humility as I watch for opportunities to humble myself in serving others.