PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.
May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature.
1 Peter 1:2-4
Are you astonished that the Son of God so humbled Himself to make Himself like us? But here is greater wonder: the Son of God came to make us like Him! This is wonder beyond all comprehension, that the Son of God bends so low to lift us up so high! But that is the message of today’s scripture about “precious and very great promises” that make us “become participants in the divine nature.”
Today’s scripture speaks of “divine power”, enabling us to actually participate in God’s nature. Christmas is not only the celebration of who Jesus is, but the celebration of who He makes us. The Son of God comes to us where we are, to lift us up where He is.
Such bold words ought not surprise as God makes clear His purpose for us at the Creation: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God wants to share His very life with us. Even now the Holy Spirit works in believers’ lives so that we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Daily the Spirit of God is working all things together for our good so that we are “conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family” (Romans 8:28-29). The Son of God comes to make us sons and daughters of God, so that, “when Christ is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Allow those words to sink in: “we will be like him…”
John Calvin wrote concerning God coming to be like us so that we might be like Him:
“It was necessary for the Son of God to be made Immanuel for us, that is, God with us, and in such a way that as he joined together His divinity with us, so He also joined our humanity together with His divinity…What was properly ours, He accepted in His person in order that what was properly His might belong to us.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, The First English Version of 1541)
This means that what the Son of God is by nature, the Father makes us by adoption. God had a far grander, more glorious plan for us than creating us merely to be ‘good’ people, doing good works to get to heaven. In boundless, selfless love, God created us to share in His never-ending joy. “Jesus Christ comes out of the bosom of the Father to fulfill his Father’s ‘yearnings’ for us. And he comes in a reconciling movement of love to draw all people into eternal communion of love within the Being of God Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Daniel Thimmel, Christ in Our Place: The Humanity of God in Christ for the Reconciliation of the World)
Of course, we cannot take on the essential nature of God, but we can participate in it and partake of it. We are finite, and God is infinite; we are creatures, He is Creator. Yet, God inextricably binds our lives together through His love. We will not be absorbed into God or lose our identity, but we will become increasingly like Him, transformed into His love, beauty and goodness. We will experience the reason for which God created us as He brings our humanity into completion by sharing in His life. “There can be no insuperable obstacle to man’s being lifted up into a union with the Divine, since the Divine found no insuperable obstacle in descending to enter into union with the human.” (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture)
Who can grasp what it means to participate in the divine nature? Only eternity can reveal it. But the Lord is not content to only give us His gifts — He gives us His very self! God is with us!
CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within.
REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me.