fishy ideas on the incarnation

Christmas is fast approaching — though it doesn’t feel like it here in Tanzania.  The forecast for today is 92 degrees.  Maybe I’ll go to the beach and make sand angels.  You laugh, but you should have seen my attempts at erecting a sandman last week, with a corn cob pipe and a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal.  Next week we’re organizing sandball fights, with teams and everything.  I also intend to try and give someone a yellow sandcone, just to see if they’ll eat it…

In keeping with the season, I’ve been thinking a bit lately on the incarnation, and why Jesus came to earth.  I don’t really have in mind a series of posts or anything, but may be writing a little on incarnation between now and Christmas.  But for today, I thought I’d post someone else’s thoughts — well worth reading (again, for many of us):

I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor the nitrate levels and the ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enough enzymes to make a rock grow. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal, and exposed it to ultraviolet light. You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so. Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one ’emotion’ only: fear. Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my designs to torture them. I could not convince them of my true concern.

To my fish I was deity. I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible. My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction. To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby. And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem. The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history. The Word became flesh.”       —The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey


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3 Comments

Filed under incarnation

3 responses to “fishy ideas on the incarnation

  1. Pingback: to minister like Jesus « aliens and strangers

  2. Jovan

    one of my favorite books…

    i enjoy reading your blog Brett

    Grace and Peace!

  3. Ben Shure

    Hi Brett. Very interesting. I typed in part of Yancey’s quote in google b/c I wanted to copy it into a sermon I am preparing for this Sunday (12/23/12). I am a family pastor at a church in Arkansas. The funny thing is that just before closing the tab to your blog, I read it just a bit, to see that you guys are missionaries in Tanzania. The funny thing is that we (my wife and 3 kids) were missionaries there too, back in 2010. Our time there was very short lived b/c of some serious health problems, but our hearts will always be connected to the people that we met and grew close to there. Anyway I thought that was a funny coincidence. Merry Christmas! – Ben

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