“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, . . .” –Romans 8:3
An implication of this, is that there is no hope for ‘us’, that is left to ourselves. There is nothing to repair, nothing to counsel, no lasting hope for all those who dwell here. The flesh has been found MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN . . . God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. . . . you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. . . . your kingdom has been divided . . . . (Dan. 5:25–28). Excuse my midrashic usage of Daniel, but I think it is certainly apropos, relative to God’s determination of humanities’ fallen nature. We are doomed! Paul has the right attitude towards the flesh when he says: . . . put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3b), this is the ‘judgment’ of God on man’s ‘fallenness’. He alone ‘searches the mind and heart of man’, thus He alone knows exactly what is required to cure man’s self-loving, inward curved self.
All of this talk, in some quarters, has become cliche’; but it should not be! ‘Fallenness’, ‘incarnation’, ‘election’, ‘death’, ‘burial’, ‘resurrection’ seems often to lose its practical-powerful punch, and instead becomes abstracted to the finely polished ‘ivory halls’ of theological talk; instead of to the raw, brute ‘barnyard stalls’ of Christmas reality. We certainly need to ‘talk’ about the ‘theology of the cross’ versus the ‘theology of glory’, but even that (even doing what I am doing right here and now) can become an abstraction.
When the ‘God-head’ determined to be who He is ‘for us’, He did not stop there! Thankfully, He is not a God of being alone, “NO!”, He is the God of becoming, the God who acts! He does not just search our minds and hearts, and determine that there is no hope there; “NO!”, He does something about it, He acts! Christmas ‘HOPE’ is rooted in “action,” in “real-power” that acts in an apocalyptical ‘in-breaking’ way. Christmas ‘HOPE’ both “passively” takes humanities’ plight to the cross, and “actively” overcomes it in the grave, and finally at the throne.
When you feel hopeless to ‘be holy’, look to the cross! When you realize how feeble you are when confronted with your impotence to ‘act’ against sin, look at the manger! Realize that any steps Jesus took, were ‘Spirit-filled’ steps that had ‘Father-powered’ direction! His steps are always to ‘high’ for us to follow, that’s why the Christmas Hope always starts in the manger, proceeds to the cross, rests in the grave, rises to the throne; He starts where we start, but ends where only He could end—thankfully He has taken ‘all who will’ with Him! Christmas Hope starts in the ‘barnyard’ and ends in the ‘barnyard’. The manger is the very epitome of God’s life (insofar as it reflects His humble ‘poured-out’ life), and it is ‘this life’ that is able to meet us right where we are, and take it to where He is!