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

What Do You See When You Look at the Manger?

Posted on: December 22, 2015

What do you see in the manger?.001


One of the challenges for earnest Christians at Christmas time is for the cultural realities of Christmas not to overshadow the spiritual realities. The nativity story is an engaging and heartwarming story, and the temptation is to place it along other engaging and heartwarming stories, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, or Cinderella. The tendency is to end the Christmas story in our minds, seeing Mary, Joseph and Jesus fleeing to Egypt to escape the threat of Herod… and thinking, “And they all lived happily ever after.”

I think a prevailing perspective on the birth of Christ is that it is a very nice and heartwarming story of the birth of a great man who came to teach us how to live, and to bring peace on earth.

While it is true that Christ came to teach us how to live, He came for additional reasons much more comprehensive than that. He came to transform our perception of reality. He came to transform our purpose for living. He came to save us from our sins. The picture we should have in our minds is not merely of Jesus, a charming little baby, who grew up to live a life we ought to emulate. Rather the picture we are to have is of Jesus, a sovereign God who died to save us from our sins, and who places on us a call for total commitment to Him.

As C. S. Lewis once wrote: Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, and all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.”

This tiny infant, as mewling and spastic as any newborn baby, was so much more than any other, he was the incarnation of the only God-man who ever lived or who ever will live, and who makes total claim, not on our own life only, but on the whole universe.

Again, Lewis wrote: There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.

This weak, wiggling baby in the manger came to lay claim to everything, and to ultimately bring everything under His dominion. Because of that, people are rarely ambivalent about Him. Today, the words, Jesus Christ, are most frequently used as swear words. Modern people in the West are often embarrassed about Jesus. It is not fashionable to talk about Him. To mention his name at a party is a conversation stopper. Yet, that does not happen with the other leaders of the world’s religions or movements. Nobody is embarrassed to talk about Buddha, Muhammad, Gandhi or the Dalai Lama.

But we could go further. It’s not only that people are embarrassed to talk about Him, they are often hostile toward Him. And, if He were a bad man, you could understand that. If He were evil, unscrupulous, immoral or an insurrectionist, you could see why there would be a negative reaction to Him. But He was nothing of the kind. He was the incarnation of goodness and love. The only reason for rejecting Him is an unwillingness to submit to Him as savior and Lord.

The disciple of Christ sees beyond the manger, accepts the sovereignty, goodness and love of Christ and willingly bows the heart, not merely in submission, but in love and worship.

So, this Christmas, take a long look at the baby in the manger, see beyond the infant to the great God of the universe who is worthy of our love, our commitment and our worship.

I pray that you and yours will have a blessed Christmas this year!


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