The other night I read my son a Little Golden Book about Jesus’s birth. Making theology meaningful to a three year old is no easy task. Still, I wanted the incarnation of God to be more concrete. My son likes babies so I started out talking about how Jesus was born a little baby. Then I said, “Jesus grew up just like you. He was three once, just like you.” As I said this, my son’s life flashed before my eyes. I thought of his complete dependence as an infant. He couldn’t eat, clean himself, dress, or even fall asleep by himself. Even at three he can’t do many of these things on his own. Then I imagined God submitting Himself to that level of dependence: God unable to feed Himself; the One who contains all things needing someone to swaddle Him; the Lord of Hosts defenseless; the Parent of all now someone’s child.
Christmas is defined by the weakness of God. The logic of our King dictates that he come gently, riding on a donkey (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5). This defies our mindset. The Lord doesn’t utilize our means of influence. He doesn’t strut His stuff with flash-bulbs popping all around. There is no “shock and awe” or forcing us to our knees. His government works without public forums, lobbying, or back-room deals. He offers no perq’s, sign-on bonuses, or compensation packages. Instead, He comes helpless and drooling. He must be rocked to sleep. His main influence is through crying. He prefers oral-fixation to oration, diaper to dapper. Such humility is impossible to fathom. “Greensleeves” should’ve been re-titled, “What foolishness is this?” Yet God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom, His weakness stronger than our strength (1 Cor. 1:25).
GK Chesterton said this about the incarnation: “It might be suggested, in a somewhat violent image, that nothing had happened…except that the whole universe had been turned inside out. […] God who had been only a circumference was seen as a centre” (from The Everlasting Man). May Christmas turn our hearts and motivations inside out. May our guiding star be the God who bows to a manger where kings bow to a baby.