In 1995 Joan Osborne released the song “One of Us.” Catchy tune. Provocative lyrics. A repeated question: “What if God was one of us…just a slob like one of us?”
I don’t know the songwriter’s intent in asking the question. Was there a searching desire to know the answer? Or was it a commentary on God as he is often portrayed and perceived—a distant god who doesn’t care about the human condition? I don’t know. However, I do know that in the Bible God gives an answer to the song’s question.
God is one of us. Come again? It’s true! God is one of us. In the Bible we are told of a promise God made to become one with the human race: …they will call him Immanuel—which means, God with us. Those words are spoken of Jesus Christ at the time of his birth. Jesus is true God and true man at the same time! This is the mystery and miracle of Christmas. This is the mystery and meaning of the special name for Jesus, Immanuel.
Let that thought sink in during these days around Christmas. God is one of us! When you have a rough day and it seems like nobody cares, remember: God is one of us! Jesus knows and cares because he once lived in our world. Jesus knew rough days more than most. He was innocent of all wrongdoing, and yet he suffered humiliation and scorn. He hadn’t hurt anyone or broken a single law of man or of God and yet he was sentenced to death.
Jesus died…for no fault of his own, but rather because that’s what he came to do. He was given human life in birth at Christmas so that he could give up that human life though death and fix our status before God. We have been slobs in the way we’ve lived before God. We do deserve his anger for disobedience to his commands and the arrogance of life lived to our own standards. Jesus became, not a slob like one of us, but a slob instead of us! He died on the cross in our place, and then he rose again to life in victory over death itself.
What if God was one of us? In Jesus he was and still is! Through faith in Jesus we have what he came into our world to win—complete forgiveness of sins and eternal life. That’s the story of Immanuel. That’s the story of Christmas.