As a small non-profit with a big mission, we rely on the generous gifts of supporters like you to help our ministry prosper and grow.



Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Thursday, November 19

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
—John 1:14

As our mission statement proclaims, one of the goals of the campus ministry where I serve is to offer our university “a place to explore what it is to be fully human.” Ironically, a great many people imagine just the opposite—that the role of spirituality is to make us less human, to somehow distance ourselves from the material world.

In Encountering God, Diana Eck notes that the incarnation carries a double significance, on the one hand denoting that God has been revealed through the person of Jesus, and on the other, that humanity has been inexorably changed. According to Eck,

Incarnation means that God finds us, and we find God, in the human faces of one another and in the human fabric of our lives. . . . As Christians see it, the “Christ event” of incarnation altered the meaning of the human condition not only for the tribe of Christians but for everyone. It disclosed a new image of the human as well as a new image of God.

Through the centuries, the church has struggled—sometimes with tragic results—to reconcile the humanity with the divinity of Jesus. According to the Docetists, for example, he only appeared to be human; in reality, Jesus never actually suffered and he never actually died. Like the Gnostics and the Manicheans, they saw the world in dualistic terms: matter was evil, “light” or spirit was good.

Adoptionists, on the other hand, believed that Jesus was born human and that he became divine only at his baptism. Similarly, the Nestorians argued that Jesus was actually two people, one divine and one mortal. Granted, these “persons” were inseparable, but they were also distinct.

I have no doubt that each of these groups was simply trying to fathom the mystery of the incarnation, and that their motives for doing so were pretty much like mine or anyone else’s. Just as those who followed them, they were trying to make sense of something that wasn’t logical at all.

What they were attempting to put into rational terms was the fact that the fabric of creation had been changed in some deep, organic way. Beyond reason, beyond words, it was a truth they couldn’t wrap their minds around—and it remains that way today. Fittingly, the incarnation must be lived in order to be known. It must be entered, experienced, and ultimately embraced.

O God, in knowing Christ may we know what it is to be fully human and fully alive, opening ourselves to both suffering and love as he did in your name.

These Signposts were originally published on in 2005.