Big Tech is under the microscope. For years social media has been accused of allowing supposed foreign actors to shape public opinion. But, of late, it seems that Big Tech has cut out the middlemen – editing, crafting, and censoring public discourse and behavior directly. How many of your posts have been “reviewed by independent fact checkers” and found wanting. But this is nothing new. Traditional media and commerce have done this forever. Print media has always reported through political bias to offer you a predigested conclusion. And large retailers intend you to buy what they offer, rather than what you want.
While Big Tech’s motives are always in question, its effects are unquestionable. Technology changes behavior. It always seeks to automate and streamline, manual time-consuming tasks. This is what technology does. Years ago, as the internet moved from the world of academia to commerce, retailers tried to leverage this new access to consumers. But there were obstacles. Shipping costs and difficulty exchanging or returning items created trepidation for buyers. Enter Amazon Prime. However you feel about Amazon, their introduction of free-shipping and no-hassle returns, more than any other innovation, opened the floodgates of ecommerce.
We all want gift exchanges to be easy. No one wants to wait in line at Customer Service only to get store credit. No one wants to search endlessly to find the return right address for a mail-order purchase and then have to pay shipping equal to the item’s original price. Until Amazon, the cost of gift exchanges was high. But now online retailers have made this process virtually painless. Click, print, and take the return to the UPS Store and you are done. Ease of exchange has been revolutionary. None of us wants to endure the costs of a difficult gift exchange. Anymore we are shocked at a seller that expects us to pay return shipping. Forgotten are the days of difficult exchanges.
So perhaps it is extremely difficult grasp of the fullness of what it cost Jesus to make the greatest exchange. When we think of the Incarnation, we consider the poverty and obscurity of his coming or of the constant rejection he experienced – “He came to His own, but His own received Him not.” But our thinking about his humiliation never goes far enough. We think of his humility in terms of what would humble us. But the very act of the eternal God taking upon himself our nature is a humiliation of inconceivable magnitude. While grace is free to us, it is not cheap. All the brokenness and curse and wrath of God that our sin brings and deserves was placed upon him. And all the righteousness that he attained was accounted to us, when we give ourselves to him. The Apostle Paul pens this great mystery concisely when he wrote.
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:21
The incarnation was the costliest exchange in the history of gift giving. God’s grace and mercy toward us came at an unfathomable cost. Our forefathers expressed described this cost as Christ’s humiliation and described it this way in the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Q. 27. What did Christ’s humiliation consist of?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted of his being born in a low condition, living under the Law, undergoing the miseries of this life, undergoing the wrath of God and the cursed death of the Cross, and in being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time.Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 27
Yet this costliest of exchanges brings about the most extraordinary exchanged lives in the recipients of God’s gracious gift. Paul describes this exchanged life in 2 Corinthians 5.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Literature is filled with compelling stories of exchanged lives — The Prince and the Pauper, or A Tale of Two Cities. But there is no more compelling story than the “Son of God becoming man, so that men could become sons of God.” This week as we conclude our study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s teaching on the Incarnation by considering the costliest exchange in history — the humiliation of Christ. Join us as we examine 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 as we consider what this exchange meant for Jesus and what it means for us.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.