This written by Walter Strawther in response to Incarnation- Incarnation, Perichoresis and Racism.
So yesterday my friend and brother, Brian Foulks, asked a question: How the Incarnation influences how we interpret the cross as African Americans? After much contemplation here is my first attempt to answer.
First of all, I am hesitant to sound exclusive, limiting my response to being African American while at the same time recognizing that theology is contextual. I offer this response as a way of adding to the dialog, so that as we share our experiences and context we grow more and more in the truth of who God is and what God does.
This question reminded me of growing up in the Fire Baptized Holiness Church and attending worship services each Sunday that included a testimony service. There are many phrases and words that seemed formulaic, then and now, but were grounded in the experience of those bearing witness to God’s goodness. One phrase that comes to mind, in response to this question, is “the God who makes a way out of no way.” This is the essence of the incarnation. Jesus comes to do for us what we cannot do. Jesus comes in human form to do what would otherwise be impossible, making a way out of no way. Through his life Jesus associated with and legitimized those who were outcasts. The experience of African Americans as outcasts and marginalized throughout a significant portion of this country’s history, and there is still work to do today, resembles that of those who Jesus spent time with during his life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
The incarnation for African Americans is more than just the presence of God but, as Brian Foulks writes in his blog, it is an “active presence.” Jesus does not just encourage the oppressed to see a new reality but participates in making that reality come into being. It is not enough for the oppressed to know that God is there. There isn’t any hope in God only being a witness to the oppression. The meaning of incarnation in light of the cross is that God will do something about the suffering. Yes, Jesus participates in the suffering by dying on the cross but three days later God makes a way out of no way and raises Jesus from the dead giving final victory to those who are suffering. This is a beginning to this difficult question.