~Whose Skin Am I In?~
Christians consider Jesus to be the incarnation of God: the embodiment of God. Some Christians are so bold to consider the invitation of Jesus to “come and follow me” as an invitation to allow our lives, even our very bodies to embody God. Jesus’ coming into the world is God’s way of saying, “Hey, you too. You are my body, my breath, my beloved in the world.”
Incarnation conversation is often limited to the month of December in which we anticipate and celebrate Christ coming into the world again. Incarnation is, however, not limited to one month of the year. God is made present in the flesh and bone of Jesus not only in his birth, but also in his teaching, his friendship, his ministry. The life of Jesus demonstrates that the physical body of all humans is a threshold of the divine presence in the world. The body is also, as someone wrote, your soul’s address.
No one body can contain or express the full reality of God; my experience in my skin is limited. We need to pay attention to the experiences of people whose skin we don’t wear, and whose skin color we don’t wear.
Recently, the National Football League has proclaimed this edict; all players on the field must stand during the playing of the national anthem. Some fans are offended by the kneeling of some players. Consider this, that kneeling is public lament. It is public grief that what is promised to everyone who lives in this country, is denied to particular people because of the color of their skin. I will have lost some of you at this point, but if you are still with me remember that you may have said yes to the one who invited you to, “come and follow me.” If you have said yes, recall it is a “Yes” to the way of compassion. The way of compassion means we are willing to let the experience and reality of people not like us to get under our own skin. This is in part what it means to see Christ in another human being.
Scripture is riddled with lament, public lament. We grow impatient and uncomfortable with public lament that doesn’t fit our preconceived notions of propriety. NFL players who kneel, as in prayer, rather than stand are lamenting publicly. It forces those of us who wear different skin to see the grief and frustration of people whose life experience challenges our worldview. And if we are willing to see that those who kneel are thresholds of the divine, we might even find that God has gotten under our skin.