Amid the fervor of political double speak, action-reaction-retaliation, mistrust, phobic this and that, unlabeled red cups, and banned nativities, we are in the count down of celebrating Christ–God invading our time and space to restore relationship with us. It’s rather mind-boggling when you stop to think about it. God made himself vulnerable… for us… Yet, the curious thing is, while we may envision a defenseless baby in a manger with an insecure, angry king on a killing spree out to get this small hero of our story, scripture tells us Jesus’ vulnerability lay elsewhere.
…while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; (1 Pe. 2:23)
Though referring specifically to his crucifixion, I can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t his standard operating procedure throughout his life. Jesus entrusted himself to His Father, over and again. Suffering was not a surprise–and I suspect, having created the world, it couldn’t have a been enjoyable living in the twisted wreck sin wrought on his handiwork. Yet, he willingly became vulnerable… in light of a larger story.
Isn’t that our calling to some extent? Peter points to Jesus’ attitude during the darkest days of his life to illustrate our own calling to suffer hardship:
…to this [suffering] you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. (1 Pe. 2:21)
So why all the fuss about a world that doesn’t like our baby Jesus? Is the church really surprised as much as it seems appalled? I honestly don’t get it.
Frankly, each of us can only answer the question for ourselves. Maybe we are the ones feeling vulnerable (rather than baby Jesus) and our anger makes us feel safe or protected. Maybe we don’t like being at the mercy of others–those who would walk us to the cross accused of anything to rid themselves of us. Maybe…
Our witness to a ‘gospel hostile world’ is less about the particulars of the story and more about how the story has affected us personally. When unbelievers only see our outrage, why would they even want to know the babe born in a manger? Why wouldn’t they want to poke fun and roll their eyes because the radical religious minority are acting out again?
When our witness becomes an angry apologetic that merely amounts to protecting our Christian privilege, we have lost sight of our lives in God, which subtly changes the message. God’s story is not just factual, it is life changing. His transforming presence becomes eclipsed by our angry and ugly outcry that we are being mistreated. Somehow, Jesus vulnerable to his Father is lost and the world misses him.
I pray you and I are able to sift through the craziness around us and within us to truly ponder and celebrate the staggering implications of Jesus born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lain in a manager–to save his people from their sin.