Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 28, 2019
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
In the opening of his modern-day masterpiece, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton tells the imaginary story of an English yachtsman who sets out on an adventure to discover a new island in the South Seas, armed and ready for conflict and the countless linguistic and cultural barriers that await him. However, due to a miscalculation, he has instead discovered England! As Chesterton puts it, “What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again?” In light of this comical scenario, he poses a follow up question: “How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it?” His answer to this question? “We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.”
Wonder and welcome. Following Chesterton’s lead, it is upon these two themes that I want us to reflect today. To wonder is to be drawn out of ourselves and into something, or someone, beyond us. This desire lies deep within every human soul, longing to experience beauty, mystery, and delight. It is this unshakable longing that births in us a sense of adventure, a desire to set out into the great unknown.
When applied to the spiritual quest to know God, humanity has spent countless centuries looking and searching far and wide, hoping to find meaning and purpose that unites the world and our experience of it. Yet so often we believe God to be distant and unknowable, swooping into creation only when it is absolutely necessary, otherwise staying “out there” while we remain “down here.” As Stephen Freeman puts it, we believe in a “two story universe,” with God living upstairs while we quietly listen from the main level for creaks in the floorboards or footsteps to confirm his existence. This may be a sense of wonder, but there is nothing familiar, nothing hospitable or welcoming about it. It is wonder without welcome. Yet, as Freeman reminds us, what if we in fact live in a one-story universe?
The reason we can be at home in this world is because the Lord Jesus has made his home with us. As Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14). The Incarnation must forever do away with our “two-story” vision of the world. God is not out there to be wondered at yet never beheld. As Acts reminds us, “He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28).
God is near to us and in Christ invites us to encounter him in the everyday realities of the world, not in spite of them. As familiar as the English coast was to the English yachtsman, so too should be our encounter with the Lord. The kindness and warm welcome of the Lord is shown in his humble embrace of our humanity so that as humans we might know the eternal. We must begin to see every moment as holy, every place and every relationship as infused with the very presence of God, inviting us to receive his welcome and forever behold him in wonder.
Father, thank you that you welcome us into the wonder of your presence through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Where have you embraced a “two-story” vision of the world and God’s relationship to it?
God is near to us and Christ invites us to encounter him in the everyday realities of the world. #WisdomHunters #wonder #truth #Jesus
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