God Meets Us In The Vulnerable Christ

God Meets Us In The Vulnerable Christ

We are vulnerable and we know it.

We have seen high tech space shuttles disintegrate leaving no trace of human remains; skyscrapers collapse; stock markets plummet, rearranging retirement plans; companies bought, sold, and moved with city-wrecking swiftness; viruses spread, kill, and mutate; radicals believe that their god has told them to behead us; babies snuffed out in the womb because their timing was inconvenient; the earth poisoned, polluted, and warmed to its destruction; health disappear at the reading of a blood test; careers end with the slip of a tongue; hurricanes rearrange life for millions; governments fail to deliver financial responsibility; and nations bring the world to the brink of war.

Any serious person who thinks about the way the world is and the way it seems to be headed, has reason to feel vulnerable.

Why We Love Mary

We love Mary because she is a picture of vulnerability. Look her up in your pictorial dictionary. How tall is she? How old? Where is she standing? What is she wearing? What color is her hair? How is it fixed?

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, you can see Mary through the eyes of the artists of the ages. And in the composite, she is a mature adult, wears velvet dresses (usually a deep red), lives in a larger than average home, has a chair by the window through which light cascades softly, and she likes to read. This is the Mary of classic art. And she appears to be fully in charge of her space.

But we know better.

Mary is in Jr. High. She wears Wal-Mart or Old Navy clothes at best. She can’t read because girls of her day rarely did. Her parents make all the decisions that affect her life, including the one that she should be married to an older man named Joseph. We don’t know if she even liked him. She lives in a two-bit town without a McDonald’s or stoplight.

And into the bedroom of this child comes the brightly beaming divine messenger whose name means “God has shown himself mighty.” She stands there in her flannel nightgown, her hair braided by her best friend, wearing Big Bird house shoes. If you ask me, this is divine overkill.

Defenseless? I think so. Fragile? Yes. Overwhelmed? Most likely. Vulnerable? Definitely.

That’s why we adore her. We can get our human arms around Mary. She’s like us. She has had overwhelming stuff happen to her. She has faced life with little power to make it turn out the way she planned. Forces beyond her have rearranged her life. She’s the Matron Saint of the Vulnerable.

If you ever think your story is not in the Bible, go see Mary. She’s vulnerable.

We are too.

  • Mike and Cheryl lost their baby boy within days of the meningitis diagnosis.
  • Julie died of ovarian cancer, leaving two little baby girls behind.
  • Emily’s husband walked out on her two weeks ago.
  • Tyler is in counseling for depression. He’s 9.
  • Aaron can’t come back to college next semester. His dad lost a job.
  • Health insurance is no longer a benefit. It’s an out of pocket expense.
  • Tom is failing high school. He doesn’t care. He just plays X-Box.

We can get our arms around Mary because she seems to know how we feel.

But Mary may not be the most vulnerable one in the story. There is one who becomes even more vulnerable than she—the God who becomes dependent flesh in the womb of a vulnerable Mary.

How God Becomes Vulnerable

This story may seem to magnify Mary, but it’s really about God—and the vulnerability of God.

  • God the Creator becomes creature.
  • God, the breath of every living thing, becomes embryo.
  • God, whose hand scoops out oceans, floats in a fetal sac.
  • God, whose voice splits cedar trees, cries for mother’s milk.
  • God, who crushes king’s armies, can’t walk.
  • God, who feeds all living things, is hungry.
  • God, who is sovereign, cannot defend himself.
  • God, full of glory, poops and pukes.

On the day that Gabriel came to visit Mary, on the day that the Holy Spirit came upon her, on the day that the power of the Most High overshadowed her, on that day—God became vulnerable.

How vulnerable?

  • Herod hunted him.
  • Hometown folk reached for rocks to stone him.
  • Pharisees criticized him.
  • Family members thought him nuts.
  • A friend turned on him.
  • Liars testified against him.
  • Rulers chickened out on justice and caved in to the demands of a lynch mob.
  • City folk spit on him.
  • Soldiers crucified him.
  • Dying thieves mocked him.
  • Pious leaders mocked him as he died.

That’s how vulnerable God became that day in Mary’s womb. What happens to us has already happened to him. He came into our vulnerability. He meets us there.

I forget that. I prefer Gabriel, messenger of “The God who shows himself Mighty”—with a capital “M.” When I am vulnerable, I want to behold a delivering, transforming, world-altering, situation-changing, putting-me-back-in-control God. I ask God to meet me at the intersection of Fixed and Finished.

But God has chosen to meet us in the vulnerable Christ, revealing himself at the point of our vulnerability. The saints of the Psalms knew this. It’s why they prayed:

I’m afraid.

I don’t know where to turn.

I can’t go on much longer.

I can’t fix this.

I’m in a mess of my own making.

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

I’m dying down here. Do you care?”

Jesus is God’s answer to all those prayers.

Dare we meet the Mighty God at the point of human vulnerability?

He’s there. Right here. Right now.

“Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

This post was originally published at DanBoone.me on 12.17.14.

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