So, in this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But consider the facts of this story in something resembling a modern context. From the outside, all we see is the birth of a baby who is born in a garage to a blue-collar couple who had conceived outside of wedlock. (Oh sure, they claimed otherwise, but who believes that nonsense?) Then, later that night, they are visited by the local Waste Management crew who said they had been told to come to that garage by UFOs.
That’s…uh…a little crazy.
Ooh! Let’s go on!
This baby grows up to start a cult. He wanders around the countryside, homeless and poor, leeching from the poor saps who follow him. All the pastors are outraged at him, because he is teaching crazy things to their congregants, who are hanging on his every word.
Oh yeah, he claims that he is God.
Then, finally, the cult blows apart. One of his inner circle defects, letting the cops get their hands on him. He is embarrassed on national television and is then executed for his crimes.
Then the cult reforms and starts telling stories about how he came back from the dead. Oh, but you can’t see him now, because he went back to heaven.
Yeah, they still claim that he is God.
This is the craziest, stupidest, most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I mean, other religions are respectable, but this is really dumb.
Unless, of course, it’s true.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
I love Jesus. I believe all those crazy things that He said. Make no mistake about it.
But part of embracing that means embracing the folly of the gospel. Christmas has become so full of sentimentality that we have lost track of the fundamental foolishness of the story that we tell. But, it is in that foolishness that the story gains its strength.
So, if you’re going to celebrate Christmas, then remember what you’re celebrating. It’s crazy! It’s ridiculous!
It’s glorious. Glorious and amazing.
Merry Christmas, everyone.