One of the key statements in the fourth paragraph of St. Gregory Palamas’ Homily Fifty-Eight on the Saving Nativity According to the Flesh of Our Lord and God and Savior is actually quite easy to miss:
[He] offered Himself to be partaken of by those who so wished, in order that from that time forward we might exercise our desire for something better without risk, although in the beginning we fell into the ultimate danger on that account (cf I Cor. 15:26), and in order that each of us, in desiring to become God, might not only be blameless, but also attain to our longing.
The phrase “our desire” seems innocuous, but has a tremendous amount of information packed into it. Although Palamas is speaking in the first person plural, he is referring to Adam. He can do this because the word Adam means humanity. Adam, being made in the image and likeness of God longed to be like God. The serpent takes advantage of this when he tempts Eve:
For God knows that when you eat of it [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
This desire is hardwired into all of us. It is God’s intention. The failing of Adam and Eve was not that they wanted to be like God. Adam and Eve’s failing was that they tried to be like God without God.
This is the ultimate purpose of the Nativity — that we might have intimate access to God so that our desire to be like God might be fulfilled beyond our wildest expectation.