23 Dec 2008

The Incarnation

I heard this story, retold by Chuck Swindoll, in Chapel at Dallas Seminary the week before classes ended. It's the story of the incarnation, from Philip Yancey's, "The Jesus I Never Knew" about how Jesus drew near... about how God chose a really strange way to save the world, but maybe, the only one that we would ever understand...

I learned a lot 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 fibres 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 be at least 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 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 a deity. I was too large for them, my actions were 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.