The Small, Incarnate Life
It’s not enough for a thing to be true — It must be real, too.
I WOULD like to draw attention to bigness. 2016 revealed that 4 out of 5 Americans have a social media profile, with one-third of the rest of the world’s population already logged on, and the remainder of the globe soon to follow suit. The human populace continues to grow exponentially and the internet spreads right alongside. Because of this, you and I grow bigger too — Ever evolving into creatures of immense platform, and huge yet ordinary influence. The average number of Facebook friends for any given user is 338. My little brother has more than 500 Instagram followers. What’s alarming about the former sentence is how unfazed we are by those figures.
Social media as good, bad or alien is not here the focus of discussion, but people are. We inhabit the smartphone era, and with it, the information and connection era. Even so, I’m left wondering as to who I am to those around me. Studies in neuroscience reveal the attention span of our willingly re-wired brains: Not even 12 seconds. So, what can you expect from your last conversation, status, or photo? It appears you’ll have to settle for 8 seconds of the average person’s consideration. I do hope you’re concerned regarding these statistics because if not then I’m wasting your time.
Interestingly, in ancient accounts of Jesus Christ’s life, something odd is recorded. God supposedly took up residence in about 20 inches of anatomy. A baby. The test of the Almighty’s power, influence and bigness was how small he could become and how intimately he could identify with the lowly. Perhaps he took upon himself deliberate tininess because he understood that it’s not enough for a thing to be true — It must be real, too.
Imagine sitting in math class. If you’re like many students, then you are bored. Yet, few would broadly proclaim that the phenomenon of mathematics, and all that’s made possible by it, is only dull and uninteresting. Why the disconnect? We’ve intellectually assented to the fact that math is “interesting” as an abstraction, but we haven’t believed it. Now, add to your previous imagination a teacher who somehow makes class fun, even riveting. What makes this possible? This teacher ceased to simply present and know math. Somehow, he becomes the math. He is math, and from himself he gives unto his students through impartation — Not mere instruction. Put another way, boring is stopping at true; only true. But where truth becomes real, when we witness the incarnate, it utterly compels. It’s irrelevantly easy to find people who know the right information — We need people who are the information.
The small, incarnate life is not for those who are big. They broke the manger. But to those small ones among us: Step into meaning, lay in the straw. It’s only possible for folks like you because no one else can fit. True begets real. Therefore, if you’d like to be real then you must await delivery in your own nativity. Take up residence. You are alive, now get born.
10 years ago, when I was 12 years old, I met someone who altered the entire trajectory of my life. He was my role model, my most trusted counsellor, my beloved friend and hero. I still remember the demeanor in his eyes when he spoke to me a decade ago.
I didn’t have a phone then.