The Condescension of God and the Deification of Man
By Abbot Tryphon, January 7, 2020
We Orthodox Christians [look forward to] celebrating the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God on Earth. And this celebration of the Nativity of Christ will mark the spiritual upheaval of the universe, for this solemn day marks the embodiment of God on Earth, and the day God became flesh in Jesus, and, potentially, in all creatures.
The celebration of the Nativity of Christ is as important for our salvation as Pascha, for the compassion revealed in the Nativity is but a precursor to the gift this compassionate God incarnate has for us. That which began with the incarnation of God taking on our flesh in order to unite Himself to His creation, will culminate with the bodily resurrection. The Nativity provides all of us with the possibility of divine redemption, for it is in the Holy Nativity that God reveals His love for us, in His great condescension to become like us.
This celebration of the birth of Jesus is not about the commemoration of a helpless baby given birth in a stable, nor is this about a sort of magic baby discovered by the Wise Men. The birth of Christ is not about a Jesus who died on the cross to “atone” for the sins of all humanity, as a sacrifice to pacify an angry God. The celebration of the Nativity of Christ is not about the concept of original sin, that all humans are born inherently corrupt. The Nativity is about the essential goodness of humans, who have been created in the image and likeness of our Creator.
The messages of both the Nativity and the crucifixion is that we are most human, most like God, when we respond to the suffering of others. Our Orthodox theology about the Nativity, is about the “co-suffering love of God.” The Nativity of Christ is about the God who created the world becoming incarnate, while the foundations of the Earth are shaken. The Nativity of Christ is about Theosis, whereby we are deified, and by His grace, share in His Divinity, just as He has joined Himself with our humanity.
With love in Christ,
~Adapted from Abbot Tryphon, The Morning Offering, https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2020/01/the-nativity-4/.