Study Guide: Who Shows Up?

Sunday December 2, 2018 | Greg Boyd

Brief Summary:

In many ways Jesus, and the kingdom he established, was anti-king of all kings. The holiness he embodied was guided by love, not law. Instead of using his kingship to separate himself from the unclean, lowly and hurting in the world, Jesus made his home right in the middle of our pain and our sin. This was unbelievably good news back then and today for all those who are hurting, needy, lonely, sinful or poor. God desires to make his residence in us, just as we are.

Extended Summary:

Many of us have heard the Christmas story so many times that it has become overly familiar, and has lost its grip and edge. The goal of this series is to wake us up to the beautiful God we find revealed in this story. In John 1 we learn that Jesus is the Word of God. He is God in his face toward us. In this becoming of flesh and blood, and moving in to our neighborhood, we learn about God’s character. He took on our flesh, our pain, our sin, and became our curse. Jesus moved into our neighborhood knowing that he would be killed because he was motivated by love. His pursuit of us is very counterintuitive in many ways, and is unlike any king seen before or since. Jesus establishes his upside-down kingdom reign by letting himself get killed, while praying for those that are doing the killing. He’s the anti-king of all kings.

We all believe that God is holy, but the important question is what kind of holiness. We normally think of God being set apart from sin, assuming that it is so antithetical to his nature that he can’t even stand to be around it. We have taken this false assumption and built whole theologies around it placing Jesus in the crosshairs of God’s wrath toward us. Jesus did die in our place to save us and free us from the bondage of our sin, but the self-righteous view of God as unwilling to get dirty and enter into our sin is a human projection. Jesus destroys this way of thinking by who he spent his time with, who he ate with, who he invited to follow him, and who he provided healing touch to. God reveals his holiness to us, which is identical to his love, when he becomes our sin. Although we often feel forsaken and abandoned when going through dark times, the truth is there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. In fact, the only way to be transformed is to experience his love in the midst of the darkness.

Our invitation is to let God prove to us that our sin is no challenge to the depths of his love. In this revelation comes the building blocks of our freedom and healing, which usually gets revealed to us in layers. Thanks to Jesus we are not separate from God. We are invited to experience the story of God becoming human through Jesus and let it blow apart our expectations of what a king should be like. He invites us to stand before him vulnerable, naked, accepted, and as we are. In fact, if we can adopt a discipline of being ruthlessly honest about all our shortcomings and fears, then we allow his love to fully penetrate us down to the core of our being. Truth uncovers, and it invites us into the light just as we are, and then empowers us to leave behind what doesn’t belong in the life of a child of God.

Reflection Questions: