For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.
Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
2 John 7-9
How important is Advent, really?
To answer the question we have to ask another:
How important is the incarnation, really?
According to the Apostle John quoted in the letter above, the incarnation is the difference between someone who “has both the Father and the Son” or “the deceiver and the antichrist.” So the incarnation is of the utmost importance.
A favorite blog post of mine by Jill Carattini on this subject puts it like this:
The story of a Savior coming as an infant in Bethlehem is indeed astonishing, as astonishing an idea as the resurrection. That God chose to come into the world with flesh, flesh that would suffer, is strange and paradoxical, beautiful and foolish. Perhaps it is also wise beyond our comprehension.
No other religion has a god who comes to humble himself by becoming human. No god of any other religion humbles himself by dying. There are some who have tried to argue otherwise, but these are old attempts using bad research.
So if the incarnation is important then Advent as a season when we remember the incarnation and look forward to the second coming of Christ is very important. We are those who confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. We abide in the teaching of Christ. That’s why we set aside this time of year to remember and celebrate.
But does the doctrine of the incarnation matter to you personally?
The short answer is – yes. Yes it does.
The incarnation reminds me about my own creatureliness. It reminds me of my own fleshly reality and being. It reminds me that I’m not a “spirit being” living inside a “meat-suit.” God created us body and soul and declared it good. Jesus took on flesh. God was not afraid to get dirt under his fingernails in his own creation.
The incarnation is more than a cameo appearance. Jesus was bodily raised also. He is the firstruits of the resurrection – a spiritual body, not a ghost or zombie. We who are united to him by faith will rise with spiritual bodies as well when he returns.
If my body will matter then, I can safely assume it matters now.
That doesn’t mean I obsess about my health and appearance, but it does mean that I don’t ignore them. We steward them just like we steward every other good gift of God’s good creation.
The incarnation matters. Advent matters. Your body matters. Take care of yourself during this season and celebrate, because God, your creator and redeemer, cares deeply about you.