In 1995 pop singer-songwriter Joan Osborne released her Grammy nominated single “One of Us.” Originally written by singer Eric Bazilian, “One of Us” proposed a series of questions challenging various aspects of belief in God and inviting the listener to consider how one might relate to Him. As a teenager, I can remember hearing the song everywhere. It was on a loop in the supermarkets, department stores, on television and on the radio. If you can remember, sing the chorus with me: “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on a bus, trying to make his way home.” A Billboard Hot 100 hit, the song garnered a diverse response across the country. Some felt it was a challenge to organized religion, while others applauded it as a practical and honest paradigm of mankind’s relationship with God.
The beauty of this song is its openness to interpretation and its knack for igniting self-reflection. One can’t listen to those rhetorical questions without answering at least one! As we celebrate Christmas, the awesome thing about this song is that God WAS one of us. In the fourth book of the New Testament, John, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples’ writes, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He explains that this “Word” was present with God in the beginning and that this “Word” was and is, in very nature God. Through the “Word” all things were created and in him is the life that is the light of the world. Jesus is the “Word” John spoke of. God’s holiness, love, plan and power are revealed to us through Jesus. He was with God in the beginning, speaking the world into existence. He is the second person of the trinity, and He became flesh and joined the human experience to reconcile us to God.
Imprisoned in Rome for spreading the gospel, the apostle Paul, a converted persecutor of the church, wrote to the church in Philippi, encouraging them to imitate Christ’s ultimate example of humility and servant hood as they related to one another.
He states, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
This incarnation, God becoming flesh, is what we celebrate on Christmas. That the pre-existing Son of God, voluntarily and obediently took on human form, in the ultimate act of servant hood to save his lost and rebellious creation from eternal separation from himself. He was fully God and fully man, experiencing all that it is to be human- emotions, pain, hunger and thirst- yet without sin. Jesus, God in the flesh, fulfilled God’s plan of salvation for all people, bearing the sins of the world on the cross and rising again to return to his rightful place seated at the right hand of the father. I don’t know how Joan would answer the main question in the chorus of her Top 40 ballad, but I know how I would.
Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Let the gifts we give and receive this season be a timely reminder of the newborn babe God gave. He didn’t have to, but because of his great love and his desire for intimacy with us, he did the unthinkable. He became One of Us.