Last week I began discussing a second reason we should reflect on the humanity of Christ this Christmas season. I shared four of the seven ways we forget this (“Christian Gnosticism”), and the harmful effects this has on us. In this post, I will share the last four. (These reasons were just too important to cram into the few weeks leading up to Christmas!)
4. Christian Gnosticism devalues the Sciences, the Humanities, and the Arts. If God’s Goodness, Beauty or Truth are not contained in the physical world, why study these things? Why not just study the Bible?
Jesus coming to us wrapped in flesh reminds us of the importance of the physical world as God’s creation--a place His Goodness, Beauty and Truth are on display. By studying all that is in the physical world—rocks and plants, people and history, atoms and artistry—we can see God's “fingerprints” and learn much about Him.
5. Christian Gnosticism has no interest in caring for God’s creation. They say pollution of our land, air, and water is not a “spiritual” issue that Christians should be concerned about. It only affects the physical world, which is of no value.
But the Christmas story reminds us that God loves his Creation, so much so that he entered it as an embodied person himself. It is an echo of what God said after each act of Creation—“It is Good.” The Christmas story reminds us of our role as stewards of His creation, called to care for the world He provided and value it as something good to be preserved.
6. Christian Gnosticism devalues our physical bodies. Since spiritual things are valuable but physical things are not, our souls must be the only things that are important to God. So there is little value placed on caring for the body.
But God shatters this error in the birth of Jesus, saying, “I care so much that I will live in a physical body myself!” In fact, in I Corinthians 6:19 He calls our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit! So we have good reason to care for our bodies—through eating well, exercising, and avoiding what will harm us, leading to physical and spiritual flourishing.
7. Christian Gnosticism devalues what we are at our core—embodied persons. We are essentially “embodied” creatures—that to be human is essentially to be a soul-body unity. Therefore our worth as human persons involves our bodies as much as it does our souls. Jesus is affirming this in the Christmas Story. By God himself becoming human, which included necessarily having a body, Jesus affirms the value of us as humans—as embodied beings.
Therefore we should be excited to be embodied and not just long for the death of our bodies as some sort of “liberation.” No, in fact being disembodied after death is an “unnatural” state, which will only last for a relatively short period of time. We ultimately look forward to the final resurrection of our bodies—in the new heaven and new earth pointed to in the 21st chapter of Revelation and referred to in Romans 8:23: "...we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies." The Christmas Story reminds us of this future hope!
The Christmas Story corrects these seven errors. This should give us even more reason to celebrate Jesus’ birth as a human during this Christmas season, and beyond! Yet as important as these are, there is a third reason to remember the humanity of Jesus may even be more important…
Until next week, grace and peace.