favorite Christmas verse is from Matthew 1:23 which quotes
the Old Testament prophecy that says, "He shall be
called Immanuel, God with us."
Yes, God came to visit the earth. That's an awesome sentence
because there are people who do not believe there is a God.
And there are others who have a belief in a god that I could
never believe in. I would be an atheist if I were taught
to believe that God is what some people believe. Then there
are the agnostics who don't know what they believe. So when
you get down to the bottom line, you have to start with
the word "IF,"
because it takes faith to believe. And it takes faith to
say, "If there is a God, can you imagine an eternal, invisible,
coming into a material form?"
is a theological word for this. The word is incarnation:
To incarnate something is to take a concept and turn it
into a reality ... To take a dream of a building
and turn it into an actual structure, that's incarnation.
To take a feeling that you have of love for your special
one and become one in marriage, that's an incarnation of
your feeling. Incarnation is to take
something that is SPIRITUAL and turn it into something that
is MATERIAL. Now we say God did that when God
visited the earth. That・s phenomenal! God visited
my book, Hours of Power, the new 365 page
motivational daily guide, I wrote, "The greatest
news in the world is that God has visited this earth. He
has walked this planet. He has made His great pronouncements.
He has uttered His voice. He has spoken His mind. He has
declared His will. And God revealed His heart when He visited
this earth as a human being."
word "visit" is an interesting word. As I was
preparing this message, I thought of the early years in
this ministry. It started fifty years ago next month and
in that first year I didn・t have meetings. I didn't
have a board. I didn't have a congregation, so I spent my
time ringing doorbells and visiting homes to introduce myself
and invite them to come to a brand new church. And I was
reminded of my first church in Chicago where I was an intern
pastor after graduating from seminary.
remember one day calling on the home of the church elder,
James Tysse. I rang the doorbell and his little five year
old boy came to the door, looked at me and yelled, "Yikes,
it's the preacher!" ...And slammed the door. I never
forgot that. Today he is a very famous and successful surgeon.
Dr. Tysse, Johnny, do you remember?
then I remember calling at another home and I was on a small
salary, $200 a month, and my worn out shoes badly needed
new soles, but I thought nobody could see the hole on the
bottom of my shoe. As the community preacher, I was sitting
with great dignity in that very lovely home. I was sharing
the faith as their little boy was crawling on the floor.
Suddenly I realized he crawled under my crossed legs and
could see the hole in my shoe and he stuck his finger in
that hole. I can still feel it. Oh, my goodness, I was so
embarrassed. I wanted to say, "Yikes!"
The Grandest Visit
grandest visit of all was when God visited planet earth.
Isaiah said it beautifully. I learned to memorize some of
the verses in Hebrew for my studies in seminary. I love
the Hebrew language because it is all on vowels with very
little consonants. I enjoy quoting the beautiful verse from
the prophecy of Isaiah:
"Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people!
saith your God."
of that Hebrew setting, God came to comfort His people when
He visited the earth. All through the Old Testament God
was making presentations and revelations through His people.
God revealed to Moses a moral law that heaven requires from
planet earth, and today it is more necessary than ever.
Before that, God revealed to Abraham that He was one God,
not many gods. Ethical monotheism, we call it. The greatest
concept in religion is that there are not many gods, but
there is one God and that concept of ethical monotheism
is embraced first by the Jewish people, then by the Christians
and, of course, in the seventh century, by the Muslims.
Ethical monotheism sets us into a camp by ourselves compared
The Incarnation: God came to visit earth.
want to share some points on the incarnation in the limited
time we have.
1) The need for the incarnation
2) The wonder ...how
did it happen?
3) The motive ... what
was the reason?
4) The ultimate purpose ...
what is it?
- The need: Why did God come to earth? I said years
ago in one of my theological papers that God was morally
obligated to reveal Himself to the human family. Well, I
happen to be a Calvinist in my theology. I wrote a 273 page
Calvinist thesis in seminary, but some Calvinists argued.
They said, "Well, God is sovereign, He is not morally
obligated." I contend that in the incarnation, Jesus
lived under the moral obligations of humans so we can say
God was morally obligated. But if you have a problem with
that, or you don't understand and you are starting to get
bored, let me give you a simpler sentence: God's
love compelled Him to self disclosure! Think
God had never come to earth to show us that He is real,
that He is loving, that He is the Ultimate Intelligence.
If God had kept Himself a secret, I couldn't love Him. His
love compelled Him to step out of the silence, the shadows
and the secrets so human beings wouldn・t have to
go on trying to guess if God was real, and guess what He
was like and then create their own concepts of God. God
was morally obligated to let us know. If God had stayed
in heaven and left us to guess, we would be guessing wrong.
Then God would be immoral. That is the compelling reason
for the incarnation, God's visit to this earth.
- The wonder of the incarnation! Think about it. God became a human
being. He had to.
never forget how Archbishop Fulton Sheen taught this to
me when he gave a sermon in this church many years ago.
He said, "If God wanted to communicate to a dog, He
would have to become a dog. If God wanted to communicate
to a bird, He would have to become a bird. If God wanted
to communicate to human beings, He would have to become
a human. That is what God did." Just think of the wonder of the incarnation.
God came not as a celebrity
eternal God, whose majesty absolutely surpasses any concept
of human imagination, could have come with a million angels
and He, God, could be soaring in the middle, probably a
thousand feet tall with arms that were a hundred feet long.
What a show that would have been. The world would never
forget it. But no, God came as a helpless infant, born in
a stable. In the lowest condition possible. God
came in simplicity, not as a celebrity!
Think of that. He came as a baby, born in poverty,
and He was born in Bethlehem, a little town that was a put
down town by those who lived in Jerusalem. God came in total
simplicity, that・s the
wonder of the incarnation.
- The motive of the incarnation: Why did God come in
a child? Because His ultimate
purpose in coming was to bring dignity back to the human
family. We lost
our dignity when Adam walked out of the Garden of Eden and
his chevrons of dignity were removed. He walked out of the
Garden of Eden as a nobody, when he was a somebody. The
great loss and the great sin is the loss of healthy, holy
pride that has been replaced with human shame and disgrace.
We live in sin in this world and in shame instead of honor.
God came as a baby in a manger to bring dignity to the child,
to bring dignity to the poor, to bring dignity to the oppressed,
to bring dignity to the marginalized and to the have nots.
God needed to show Himself so we wouldn・t have to
doubt all the time and guess and fall for a lot of the ridiculous
teachings of religion in the world.
The wonder of the incarnation: Can anything be more dignified
as innocence in a baby.
The motive of the incarnation is to save us from shame to
self respect, self confidence and self dignity. Without
dignity we have no self respect and we don・t believe
in ourselves, and without this dignity we don・t trust
the dreams that come into our minds because at the outset
they are impossible. And God can・t communicate to
people who don・t even believe in themselves. The
reason behind most atheism is not science. Atheists can・t
even believe in themselves so they can・t believe
in God. God・s purpose was to put dignity back into
human beings so we can become His creative children. Then
we can believe in the impossible dreams that come from God.
"I can do all things through
Christ." Yes, the purpose of the incarnation
was to turn the human race into His creative children on
planet earth. God wants us to connect with Him and He can
live in us and love through us and then build a beautiful
world where human beings help each other, where we are.
Whatever you do, whatever job you have ... if you are a
truck driver, you are probably the most important person
on the world because you deliver the food.
remember visiting a member of this church, a young man,
who had severe cerebral palsy. He is now in heaven, but
he said to me, "Dr. Schuller, I always felt I was worthless.
I had no value. I couldn・t do anything. I couldn・t
have a career. I could read and write. I felt useless. And
I spent so much time in a hospital and this one nurse was
so nice to me. One day she said, "I go to the Crystal
Cathedral also, and in Dr. Schuller・s sermon last
Sunday he said, ．Every life has a purpose.・ Then the nurse said
to me, ．You have a great purpose too, because without
you I wouldn・t be working and because of you I can
I feed my kids. I am a widow. All the people in this hospital
are like you. Without all of you, we wouldn・t have
the opportunity to give our love and show you how worthy
you are. Everybody has a purpose. That is the message God
shares with all of us. So Dr. Schuller, I know I can do
my part too to share God・s love by just being me!"
- The ultimate purpose of the incarnation. When God visited
the earth, everything changed. Faith ... intelligent, affectionate,
responsible and healthy, came into our world. Ethical monotheism
went beyond Abraham, beyond the Ten Commandments, until
God Himself decided He would visit this earth. And He, God,
would pay the price and He would die on a cross, and His
love would change the world. Then people would become believers!
Yes, they would believe and they would change their world.
It wouldn・t turn into a perfect sinless world, no,
but people scattered all over the planet would meet Jesus,
invite Him into their lives and then they would love people
the way Jesus would love, help people the way God would
help them. That is the Good News of Christmas. And it all
happened because God decided to pay us a visit. That is
the way to celebrate Christmas, isn・t it?
thank You. Thank You that You came to visit us. And now
we trust You. O God, we listen to what Jesus said and what
He taught and look at how He lived and we know we are looking
at God coming to earth to give us all the proof that He
is alive and He loves us and He wants to save us. Hallelujah.