Dehumanization in the Land Where God Became Human
By: Botrus Mansour
The largest church building in Israel is the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church (the Basilica) in my hometown Nazareth built on the ruins of the home of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. It is there that Mary got the good news directly from the angel Gabriel of her selection as the one to bear a child- the promised Messiah, Immanuel-God becoming flesh. In Christian theology this holds the name “incarnation” (Jesus becoming human) – a pillar of the Christian doctrine (See John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14, 18) .The Nicene Creed states: “he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man”.
Some say Incarnation happened in Nazareth when Mary was conceived with the holy spirit. Others say that the right time for God coming to the world in flesh should be attributed to Bethlehem- the event the whole world is commemorating every year: Christmas.
However, Christmas this year has a different meaning in the land of Nazareth and Bethlehem (a hundred Miles apart) as less than 50 Miles to the south-east of Bethlehem lays Gaza. 30 Miles north of Nazareth lays the border with Lebanon that also witnesses attacks and counter attacks. It is in both places in the north and in the south in this troubled tiny strip of land that a fierce war has been raging for more than 11 weeks.
If the incarnation means heaven and earth touching, meeting and kissing - then this Christmas in the holy land, feels like earth and hell not just touching but clashing and kissing a deadly kiss that is resulting in bombing, shelling and shooting.
Before incarnation occurred more than 2 millenniums back, human beings’ worth was dear in the eyes of God not only as they were his creation and the work of his hand (Isaiah 64:8) but also because they were created in his own image (Gen 1:27). Human beings are supposed to revere that worth. How can you hurt your fellow human being when God’s image is in him?
It did not stop there, as God becoming human has boasted that worth. It has brought great honor to the whole humanity. The king of kings, the creator, the alpha and Omega has entered our world and became one of us. He made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant (Phil 2:7) for the sole purpose of redeeming that human being that he created and saving him from the justice of God. Such grand entry of God visiting our land in Bethlehem, despite the humble surroundings, added to the worth of human beings.
Who is this precious creature that God himself is incarnated for his sake and wore his tent ( as illustrated in 2 Cor 5:4 for example) enters into our world and dies for him on the cross?!
Ironically, and in this season specifically, the same land where God became human has mastered dehumanization of human beings one towards the other.
This Christmas we remember the little child-God that became human- who came to give life to the world and give it in full (John 10:10) and raised our worth to a status of children of the God. But in the surroundings, there are more Herods than Shepherds and Magi wise men.
These Herods, ignore the human being in the other if his nationality differs than theirs. For them, and for the sake of “nationalistic aspirations” or revenge or greed
- all opponents are guilty and should be killed. They decide to dehumanize so they can kill them easily with “clear conscious”. They ignore that the opposing people have faces, names, parents, children, dreams…They are not humans in the first place. They are just guilty.
The only one who was entitled to judge in the first place is Jesus as he was sinless (Hebrews 4: 15) . The only one who could say that “all are guilty” is also Jesus. That same Jesus did not stop there, but due to his endless love like no other, provided the solution for humans in the form of the cross. It was the cross that he was crucified on and was the means to obtain an innocent verdict.
Shamefully we as humans, and especially now in the land of Christmas, do not follow that model of Jesus. Instead of lifting the worth of man, we degrade the fellow human. We kidnap, we kill, we hurt and we dehumanize.
Any chance that those celebrating Christmas in the west look beyond the glamorous celebrations of Christmas to the land where it all begun? To look to the land of Incarnation-God becoming human- and asking that the worth of human beings be given its proper place, exactly as the child in the manger wanted?
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