If I labelled this post as ‘incarnation’ you probably would have skipped over it, but if I aimed at your stomach there’s a higher chance you’ll give this post a look – so “I got you!”
I’m doing another word thing, so I put Logophiles in the title line. Let me lead you through a review of Chili con Carne and other words, to get to something worth keeping in mind.
Chili con carne is the name of a meat dish, coming to us from the Spanish. Chili refers to chilli – duh! ‘con carne’ means ‘with meat’. The Spanish word ‘carne’ originates from the Latin and means flesh or meat.
The same Latin root is used in English words. A carnivore is a creature that eats meat. So, a crow is a carnivorous bird.
The word Carnival originated with reference to meat, since the original event was a festival that took place in the Lenten season, where meat is not eaten. So the ‘carn’ was lifted, giving us ‘carnival’.
To ‘incarnate’ means to make something into flesh. Thus to ‘re-incarnate’ means to make something into meat once again. The concept of reincarnation involves a person losing their ‘meat’ and being put back into a flesh body at a later time.
So that leads me to a closer look at ‘incarnation’. Incarnation is the process of something that is not flesh taking on human form. This is what happened with Jesus Christ. He has always existed as God. We know that God is spirit, so Christ was a spirit being, without fleshly body, from before the beginning of time. The incarnation is a miracle, because God stepped into the natural realm, which He is not bound by, and endured its impositions and limitations, so he could take upon Himself a human body.
The Shocking Incarnation
Some religions are offended by the idea of the incarnation. In the late 1980’s I heard a Moslem speaker contend with the claim that Jesus Christ is God. The speaker, at that time a leading international orator on behalf of the Moslem faith, claimed that the Koran defined a god as a being that did not have an anus. A deity should not be subject to the physiological impositions of our human existence. The orator pointed out that one of the Australian Aboriginal tribes also had the same definition of a god, by which he effectively put Islam on the same footing as a tribal belief system.
By reference to the Koranic definition of a god, the orator declared that Jesus Christ could not be God, because the requisite anatomical qualification was not met.
Now, it is true that the Living God is not subject to the limitation of human flesh. Due biological process is not something that impacts Almighty God in the slightest. He is spirit and free of all the limitations and constraints impacting mankind.
So, God’s willingness to endure the ‘incarnation’ makes it all the more wonderful. It is a miracle that the God of the universe should so choose to identify with the beings He created that He would subject Himself to the indignity of human existence. But there’s more. God not only became human, including the necessary biological implications, but He allowed Himself to be falsely condemned to death and then butchered in a sacrificial carnage.
Oh, and there’s another ‘carne’ word. Carnage refers to the flesh of slain animals or men. Carnage involves death and dead bodies. Bodies cut open, bleeding and dismembered befit the concept of carnage.
Jesus Christ had his flesh torn open by cruel scourging. His hands and feet were torn open by the nails. His side was spear-pierced and His head punctured with thorns.
It is shocking that any God would allow such treatment, especially when He had the power and authority to do as He wills. The only way such an event could occur is with the willing co-operation of God, Himself.
So the Moslem orator was right in his desire to elevate the quality of deity, but wrong in his understanding of the incarnation. His god would never perform such an act of love. His god would not suffer indignity and pay an inconceivable price to save his followers.
Our God, the true and Living God, God Almighty, is the God of the incarnation. Jesus Christ is the ‘incarnate God’ – the God who became flesh.
Now, the thing that often stops people from loving and accepting the salvation available via our incarnate Saviour is man’s ‘carnal’ nature. Man is spirit, but he is ‘also flesh’ (Genesis 6:3). That ‘flesh’ is our ‘carnal’ dimension. When we live out of our fleshly desires we are living a carnal life. If we live after the flesh we will die. But if we, through the Spirit of God, put to death the deeds of our carnal body we will live.
Christians have crucified (died to) their fleshly inclinations and they present their body to God as a living sacrifice. And therein they find life that is far beyond the rewards of their fleshly existence.
Now, you just go right ahead and enjoy your Chili con carne. And as you do, spare a thought for the wonder of the incarnation and the challenges of your own carnality.