The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

The Birds Think I’m Deity!

Posted on: December 20, 2016

At Christmas time, we have a special opportunity to explore the mystery and magnificence of what Jesus accomplished in coming to earth 2000 years ago.

As an analogy, we have a birdfeeder in our backyard which I keep stocked with black sunflower seeds. I enjoy watching the chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and cardinals flitting to the feeder, grabbing a seed, escaping to a nearby tree branch and hammering the hull with their beaks to get to the seed inside. Then they do it again, over and over, every day. I never tire of watching it.

Knowing that it is harder for them to find food when there is snow on the ground, I am especially careful to keep it full then. I like birds. I enjoy them. I have nothing but the best of intentions toward them. Yet, not only are they not grateful to me for what I do, but they are actually terrified of me. If I step off the back porch into the yard, they scatter as though their lives were in danger.

I think how much easier life would be for them if they just understood my benevolent intentions toward them. It would enable us to actually develop a friendship of sorts. At least it could reduce their fear-factor.

To the birds, however, I am deity. I am too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible, and my generosity too transcendent. They see my presence as life-threatening. And though I have never tried it, I am confident that any attempts to explain my benevolence would exceed their comprehension.

To change their perceptions, I would have to somehow become a bird and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

This is a similar obstacle that God had to overcome with us. Jesus came to earth because, otherwise, we would not be able to comprehend God… His love, His ways, His benevolence, His plan. We would not be able to understand the radical measures that would have to be taken to get rid of our sin. Like the birds, we might easily misunderstand God’s actions toward us. In Jesus, God bridged the gap.

Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard expanded on this idea by telling a story about a mythical kingdom in which there was a handsome young prince who, while running an errand for his father in the village, was smitten by a beautiful peasant maiden. He learned that not only was she physically beautiful, but she also possessed a rare inner beauty. He fell in love with her, knowing that even though she was a peasant and he a prince, he would never be able to find a better mate if he searched all the royal courts of the land.

But he had a significant problem. How could he win her heart so that she truly loved him for who he was?

He could command her to marry him, but he wanted love, not coercion. He could descend on her modest home in a gold carriage drawn by white horses, bearing gold and jewels. But then, how could he know if she loved him, or if she were merely swept off her feet by the splendor of royalty?

So finally he came upon a daring strategy. He decided to dress as a peasant and move into the village incognito, to become one of them, to merge his life with theirs in an attempt to win her heart. So he lived among the people there, working as a common laborer, dressing as they dressed, eating as they ate, and living as they lived.

In the process, he met the young maiden, developed a relationship with her, shared interests with her, and eventually the young lady grew to love him for who he was. She came to love him because he first loved her.

After the relationship was established and love was born, the Prince took the young maiden off to a life of splendor that she could not even have imagined before.

This is the essence of the gospel. The Prince of Peace Himself, Jesus, laid aside the robes of his glory, dressed himself as a peasant, moved into our village, to win us to himself.

That is why Jesus came to earth. That is why he was born in difficult circumstances as a vulnerable infant… because God wanted to show us what He was like in a way that we could truly understand. The Bible says, “If we have seen Jesus, we have seen God.” He wanted to convince us that He loved us and wanted us to love Him.

That is the gift that Jesus gave us at Christmas. Just as we would not relish the idea of becoming a bird to be able to reach birds, so we can only imagine the sacrifice Jesus made in coming to earth. But when we look at the baby in the manger, we understand that without Jesus, we could not fully understand God.

Merry Christmas to you all!

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