A Jagged Contention: God’s Humble State


“[Mary] experiences in her own body that God does wonderful things with the children of men, that his ways are not our ways, that he cannot be predicted by men, or circumscribed by their reasons and ideas, that his way is beyond all understanding or explanations, both free and of his own will.

“Where our reason is offended, where our nature rebels, where our piety creeps anxiously away, there, precisely there, God loves to be. There, he confuses the understanding of the clever. There he offends our nature, our piety. There he will dwell and no one can deny him. And, now, only the humble can believe him, and can rejoice that God is so free and so wonderful, that he works miracles when the children of men despair. He has made the lowly and the humble to be lifted up. That is the wonder of wonders, that God loves the lowly: ‘God has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.’

God in the “humble state”–that is the revolutionary, the passionate word of Advent.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent: “My Soul Praises the Lord,” in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons. Pg. 98. ed. Edwin Robinson


Does our preaching and teaching tend to proclaim the majestic God of glory or God in his humble state, as Bonhoeffer so beautifully describes? What is the danger of trying to know, or preach, Christ apart from his humility? What are some of the most common ways preachers seek to remove the “offense” of God’s humility?