For several years now there has been a growing epidemic of thieves stealing the baby Jesus figure from nativity scenes across the country. The culprit is most likely college students, because it sounds like something college students would do. I doubt they mean any harm. Some have speculated that the baby Jesus stealings are the result of an organized group who want to take Christ out of Christmas, and stealing the baby Jesus figure is symbolic of their diabolical plot.
Whichever the case may be, stealing is a crime. But I believe there is a more heinous crime afoot that involves the stealing of Jesus. I’m not talking about a worthless plastic toy in the churchyard either. For years there has been an epidemic within the Church, the very Body of Christ, to steal the biblical Jesus and replace him with a worthless plastic doppleganger. The culprit is not immature college students, but supposed leaders within who’ve conditioned us to think of Jesus as an affable, unauthoritive, homeboy who wants nothing more from us than our happiness, money and permission.
Very weighty accusations, you might say.
Do I believe there is a giant plot to downgrade Jesus (shoutout to Spurgeon) into someone and something that tastes better and goes down smoother?
Yes and no.
I’m not sure if I’d call it a “plot”, But I do know there has been a concerted effort for years to make Jesus more acceptable and to the masses. By our making him acceptable and attractive, we are, in essence, stealing him.
Jesus was called “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:8).
Many times throughout Scripture we find the establishment offended, annoyed and assaulted by the Son of God, “So they were offended at him” (Matthew 13:57)
Therefore the religious leaders and their ilk eventually conceived and plotted to have Jesus removed.
Because everything about Jesus was so wrong.
His mom became pregnant out of wedlock. His stepdad thought about skipping out. He was born in a smelly small stable in a backwater town surrounded by animals, hay and dung, not to mention a crowd of shepherds that today we might call “rednecks”. He worked with his stepdad in a very unassuming profession. He never sat at the feet of a noted rabbi. He wandered around from city to city going to parties with extortionists, cheats, scoundrels, hookers and scum. He broke all the accepted rules of hygeine and church order of the day. He started fights in the church house, going so far as to physically attack, all the while claiming to be the fulfillment of all Old Testament messianic prophecy.
The real Jesus, the one that doesn’t lay docile and motionless on December 25th in the church yard, just doesn’t fit the biblical bill. He doesn’t gel well without our neon lights, pomp and glitter.
I agree and celebrate that Jesus had a “softer” side. He showed love and compassion to those who the establishment thought unworthy of love and compassion. He defended the oppressed. He provided to the needy. He gave hope, comfort and health and offering redemption to those who lacked it. And he did it all to the praise and glory of his Heavenly Father.
I want the full picture of our Lord: full of bravery, authority, power, glory, love, compassion, forgiveness and grace. I do not want the plastic Jesus that’s been stolen from so many churches, minds and hearts.
By the way, Merry Christmas from the staff (me) here @ the reformissionary!