This time of year it would be customary (or at least pleasant) to read about those warm fuzzy moments surrounding the celebration of the birth of Jesus. To paraphrase a common saying, “This ain’t one of those moments.”
You see, everyone responds differently to the Good News.
Around the time of Jesus’ birth, the people who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding area knew that firsthand.
King Herod was fuming mad that the wise men had returned to their own country without returning to tell him the whereabouts of Jesus. Under the guise of wanting to worship him, Herod was relying on their information so he could kill the Christ Child. Herod was threatened and wanted no one else in control. When his original plan failed, every boy aged two and under was killed at the king’s command. What a huge price many paid because of one man’s ego, anger, and fear!
As Jesus grew up, and especially during his ministry, people responded with curiosity or disinterest or disdain in their own thoughts about him. Though time changes, human nature does not.
Today, people still respond the same way as Herod: the thought of giving up control of one’s own life to Someone Else will just not be done. So, Jesus is again responded to with curiosity, disinterest, or distain.
Maybe even worse, He can be put “in his place”, especially by us folks who are religious or may have a faint interest in being spiritual. This could be because of religious tradition or because we have become too familiar with Him. Either way, when this happens, Jesus risks becoming an icon for us, removed from personal relationship with the very people he died for! Jesus died for an intimate relationship with each one of us- not so that He could become a corporate figurehead.
To me, the baby Jesus I place in that crèche on the mantle is only a reminder of the man who died to give me eternal life and a living relationship with Him. This Christmas, I invite you to reconsider the Jesus who willingly gave up his life for you. All He asks in turn is that you give him your heart and control of your life. What a small price to pay!