Monday, December 14, 2015

Reconsidering Advent: Baby Jesus is God

"Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace."

Nativity sets are out.  Bright lights decorate our homes and streets.  Advent wreathes are lit.  Christmas music is playing, carolers are singing, shoppers are stressing... And for those of us who are church-goers, it's easy to fall into the old pattern.  We need the nativity up, we need to celebrate the coming of Jesus, a time of waiting.  And in some ways, the tradition, the pomp and circumstance, help us remember the coming of baby Jesus.  
We remember that the Jewish people waited for a messiah for centuries.  We remember the promise in Isaiah, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."  (Isaiah 7:14).  And that this promise is literally birthed in the person of Jesus.  We rejoice.  We stand in wonder during the season.  We rediscover the magic and hope as we sing the lyrics that consider the tender infant that God sent into the world.  But how easy is it to stop there?  If baby Jesus is just a promised child that came from a virgin, then we sing lyrics of this 'holy infant, tender and mild,' we easily become jaded.  We go through the motions.  We set up the tree, put the presents under the tree, place the nativity as the tradition we worship, rather than the reminder of what God accomplished.  

The virgin birth was a miracle in itself.  God gets the glory if He truly caused a virgin to have a a baby.  But that's not the most important part of the promise.  Immanuel means "God with us."  So here's a baby, and God claims that He himself is this baby.  God is the one who is the 'holy infant'.  God is the one who is 'meek and mild'.  The same God who is all powerful!  The same God who created us out of the dust (Genesis 1)!  The same God whose face Moses couldn't look at without perishing (Exodus 33:18)!  This God placed himself as a human infant!  

Consider the implications!  God the Son could be everywhere, now if he wanted to get somewhere, he had to be carried.  God the Son could command the stars, now He had to depend on his parents to teach him to speak.  God the Son had the perfect Father in God the Father, now He had to depend on sinful parents.  God the Son resided in the glory of perfect heaven, now he resided on the broken earth.  He lived among lepers, the blind, the corrupt, and the godless.  Within the first two years of his human life, a human king felt threatened by this baby's presence to the point that Jesus had to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:1-17).  Why would Jesus place himself in this position?  Why would He leave the comfort of His eternal home?  Why would He surround himself with both the lowest of society, as well as those who were his enemies?  Because the promise was to come and reconcile the lowest, the corrupt, the enemies back to Himself.  And only He could do it.  

God gave up everything to love those who hated Him.  It transforms how we think of the season.  It transforms how we consider how we love and who we love, because if we truly believe that baby Jesus is the God who saves, and He saved us, the lowest of the low, then how can we not respond in kind?

We choose to love even when it hurts.  We choose to love even if a person seems unlovable.  We choose to love when it costs much.  We do it because Jesus gave up EVERYTHING to win you and me.

So who is that one person you can't stand at work?  What if you bought them a nice gift, wrote them a card to share what you appreciate them, or take them out for a cup of coffee?

Who is the family member you cringe at when you see them?  What if you not only said hi, but actually spent quality time either on the phone or went and visited them?  

Have you considered the "low" people that you can serve during the season?  Can you visit assisted living places, soup kitchens, or the homeless and give not just of your money, but your time?  

Have you considered the needs of the world's afflicted?  There are physical needs for the less fortunate, and spiritual needs for those who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  Consider helping in the relief effort of Ting Ministries and the Independent Church in India, as a leper community struggles with recent flooding, or contribute to a current effort to raise $2016 by the end of the year to train missionaries to bring the Gospel to the unreached.  (Check out this video!)

If baby Jesus is God, then we must respond by not only remembering that God gave up His power, status, and reputation for our sake, but by doing likewise.  We are His people, and we should look more and more like Him.  It's part of the promise of His salvation.  

"Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born."