Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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What if God Was One of Us?
by Tom Goodman
December 17, 2008

When I was a kid, my friends and I thought we were being clever to choose John 11:35 whenever a teacher at church challenged us to recite a scripture from memory:  "Jesus wept."

Without knowing it we had actually selected one of the most revealing texts about Jesus.  John tells us about Jesus' tears in a setting that's natural for tears.  Jesus' good friend Lazarus had died, and Jesus did what you and I do at funerals for good friends:  He cried.

In her hit song, "One of Us," Joan Osborne sang, "What if God was one of us... just a slob like one of us?"  Some consider the song irreverent, but Osborne was asking an important question:  Does God know what we're dealing with down here?

The answer is in the Christmas story, when the angel told Mary that people would see her child and exclaim, "Immanuel!" which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).

Jesus was everything it means to be a man, just as he was everything it means to be God.  What does his humanness mean for us?

First, it means Jesus is our example.  Simon Peter said, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).  Of course, Christ was doing much more on the cross than simply setting an example for us (1 Peter 2:24).  Still, the Bible says we should imitate Christ's faithfulness in our own hardships.

Second, Jesus is our encourager.  The Bible says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).  Sometimes we want to pray, "Lord, I'm tempted" or "Jesus, I'm struggling down here," or "Lord, life just hasn't been fair to me recently."  It's good to know that we can bring those things to a Lord who can say, "I know what you mean.  Follow my example and hang in there."

Joan Osborne asked an important question, and Christmas is the answer.  God was one of us.

Come celebrate the birth of Christ at Hillcrest this Sunday at 9:30am or 10:45am, and also on Christmas Eve at 6pm.

Weblog:  Check out my blog, "Get Anchored."  Some things to look for...

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