An important message of Christmas is that God is with us. Jesus Christ came into this world and became one of us. The evangelist writes in Matt. 1:23, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). For followers of Jesus Christ, that means we are to be like Christ in his incarnation. The Son of God took our humanity to himself in Jesus Christ. So we are called to follow the example of his great humility and love (Phil. 2:5-8). What does incarnating Jesus look like in real life?
Let me share with you the life story of one of my professors in seminary. Dr. John S. Feinberg has served as Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for over 30 years. He is a brilliant theologian and a prodigious author of many books. With a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, he is renowned for his work in theodicy. Although he has been successful in defeating intellectual arguments against the providence of God in view of the existence of evil, he has admittedly struggled in maintaining his personal faith in God.
In class and in various publications, Dr. Feinberg has shared how his life was turned upside down in 1987, when his wife was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. This is a genetically transmitted disease that attacks both mind and body and involves the premature deterioration of the caudate nucleus of the brain. There is no cure and there is a 50-50 chance that his children would get the disease. So how would a Christian theologian, who has defended the goodness of God (at least on an academic level), deal with this challenge on a personal level?
Often holding back tears in class, Dr. Feinberg shared his personal testimony of why he is still a Christian in spite of the evil that has befallen his family. He began to ask God each morning for the grace he needs to make it through that day. As God answered those prayers each day, he became more confident that when things got worse, he would need only one day’s grace at a time and it would be there. He insisted it was mostly fellow believers in church, who showed their love by cooking for him and his family, that encouraged him the most through the last 30 years. That is one example of how Christians can incarnate Jesus Christ in helping another brother or sister in Christ.