What is God like? It’s a question most people think about from time to time. It’s an important question. In fact, A. W. Tozer says “What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.” (The Knowledge of the Holy) That’s why I am looking forward to making available our 2017 Advent devotional Our Humble God: Daily Reflections for Advent 2017. I think its dally reflections can deepen our understanding of what God is like and the life to which He calls us.
Most people tell me that when they think about God they think of power and majesty. Yet, at that first Christmas there was God coming down to us in humility and abject helplessness. Years later there was Jesus ending His life on a shameful cross, despised and rejected.
The story of Christmas starts our thinking about God in a very different place. Jesus is the human face of God stepping onto the stage of history as a microscopic cell, totally dependent on a teen mother for His very life. Jesus goes about His life with no place to lay His head, seeking to serve and not to be served, washing disciples’ feet, even the feet of the one who would betray Him. Jesus does not leave us guessing as to what God is like.
God in a manger is not God giving up the attributes of divinity, but the very revelation of His divinity to us. This is what God is like! This is God acting most like God! This is God acting completely in character. The God we believe in is the God whose very nature is to give Himself for others and to hold nothing back. This is the divine nature. Reformed theologian Karl Barth rightly observed, “God is not proud. In his high majesty, he is humble. (Church Dogmatics, IV/1) Because God is love He makes Himself vulnerable, putting Himself at risk and taking on unspeakable suffering for us. Jesus invites all to come to Him for He is “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus leaves not one guessing what God is like.
Our 2017 Advent devotional will reflect each day on the beautiful Christ Hymn of Philippians 2:5-11. William Barclay said of the Christ Hymn, “There is no passage in the New Testament which so movingly sets out the utter reality of the godhead and the manhood of Jesus and makes so vivid the sacrifice that he made when he laid aside his godhead and took manhood upon him.” (Daily Study Bible) Biblical scholar Michael Gorman calls the Christ Hymn Paul’s “master story” as it proclaims “his gospel more fully, yet succinctly than any other single text.” (Apostle of the Crucified Lord) It will give us a new view of Jesus, a new understanding of God, and a new appreciation of life in Christ.
New York Times columnist David Brooks chronicles in his best seller The Road to Character how the American culture is becoming increasingly self-centered and focused on the “Big Me”. Brooks marshals extensive data revealing “that we have seen a broad shift from a culture of humility to the culture of what you might call the Big Me, from a culture that encouraged people to think humbly of themselves to a culture that encouraged people to see themselves as the center of the universe.” The Christ Hymn that we will reflect on during Advent exalts Jesus as our humble God who in self-forgetful love came down to us! All who would follow Jesus seek to put on His humble love.
I ask you to consider ordering a copy of Our Humble God: Daily Reflections for Advent 2017, and that you will make it part of your daily devotional time during Advent. Also, please think about sharing copies with your Sunday School class, home Bible study, co-worker, family members, friends, and pastor! We printed 7,000 copes of the Advent devotional and are eager to make it available to people. Would you please pray with us for the distribution and underwriting of these daily reflections of the Christ Hymn!
I know it’s not even Halloween or All Saints Day, but it’s not too early to start thinking about Advent!
Grace and peace,