You get to know other people by watching what they do and listening to what they say. Body language is as important as spoken language. But it takes time to get beyond the surface to the depths of personality and character. What you are discovering is spiritual. It cannot be known except by revelation coming through speech and action, but when you get to know that other person at depth you engage spirit to spirit, in true intimacy or communion, but the vehicle through which this intimacy is expressed is still physical. So it is with God. God is spirit, but we get to know God through that which can be seen, touched, heard, tasted or smelt. This is what we mean by incarnation: the spiritual revealed through the physical. Through creation, the world of nature, the wonder of life, awe at the immensity of the cosmos, something of God is revealed. People all over the world, throughout history, have sensed this. Some regarded physical objects as the doorway to spiritual, divine reality – e.g.: sun, moon, mountains, idols made of wood or stone. They worshipped them. However, from early times, the Hebrew people learnt that God is beyond physical representation, although they recognized that the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy of Holies in the temple revealed God’s presence in a special way. However, we usually reserve the word Incarnation for God’s presence and revelation in and through Jesus. The Word became flesh (John 1:14). God’s great self-disclosure was made through him. He took the place of the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The historical Jesus revealed God to us as nothing or nobody else can do, and he revealed God as love calling forth love from us and one to another.
- Reflect on the way personality is revealed through the physical aspects of a person’s life.
- Give examples of the spiritual aspects of life being revealed through the physical.
- Think of a time when God’s presence was made known to you through nature.
- What’s different about God’s incarnation in Jesus and God’s revelation elsewhere?