At this time, every year, Americans become aware of holy days. Though perhaps the image will only flash through their minds in the midst of gift wrapping, Santa visiting, and tree decorating, at some point many will think of a child in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. About this child, they will sing: "The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night / He will bring us goodness and light". They will sing: "Remember Christ our Savior / Was born on Christmas day". They will sing, "O Holy Night / The stars are brightly shining / It is the night of our dear Savior's birth". And they will sing, "Son of God, Love's pure light...Jesus, Lord at Thy birth".
Most Americans will hear these soaring words at some point this Christmas. Many will think, perhaps only briefly, of a baby called Lord, King, and Savior. Perhaps while standing in line at a store, or while wrapping a present, many men and women will turn their minds toward a startling thought: millions of people claim that this baby was God! Fully human, fully divine. The thought will then be lost in the hustle and bustle, no doubt. Still, the question is there, implicit, every Christmas. What are we celebrating?
God became man. This should startle us, even those who have been Christians for decades. If you had been there, you could have touched him, held him, and heard him cry. The infant God-man fed at his mother's breast like any other baby, and he also needed to be changed like any other baby. This, we must admit, seems strange. Why would God humble himself in this way?
The answer, according to Scripture, is that God became man to save us from our sins and to grant us eternal life. (John 3:16) Ever since the Fall, when man became disobedient to God, the world had been waiting for a Savior to restore the relationship between God and man. Christ claimed to be the savior for whom the world was waiting. He came, he said, to make all things new. (Rev. 21:5)
The entire story is audacious. A baby who is God? A man who claims to be the savior of the world? Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) He did not say a way or one among several truths. He claimed to be the way and the truth. And then, to the everlasting consternation of moral and religious relativists across the ages, he declared, "No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
One way? The only way? That's the choker for many who profess admiration for the life and teachings of Jesus but who refuse to submit to his Lordship. Therefore, they attempt to sidestep the issue and to cherry-pick his teachings. They start going on about what a fine moral teacher he was, perhapsand here they think they are making a magnanimous concessionhe was the greatest teacher who ever lived! This, of course, is preposterous. C. S. Lewis explains why:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunaticon a level with the man who says he is a poached eggor else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (Mere Christianity)
Perhaps it is because of the difficulty of his teachings as an adult that so many of us prefer to think of Jesus merely as a little child. We prefer to think of the Word made flesh before he had learned to speak. We would rather think of him cooing in his mother's arms than to be faced with the exclusivity of his claims. Those claims were so offensive to the authorities of his time that they resulted in his persecution and execution. Those same claims are no less offensive to many today who refuse to utter his name, except as an expletive. But for those of us who believe, that name is the "power of God for salvation." (Romans 1:16) That's why we raise our voices and sing:
God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray;
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC and a nationally recognized trial lawyer who represented Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case. Connor was formally President of the Family Research Council, Chairman of the Board of CareNet, and Vice Chairman of Americans United for Life. For more articles and resources from Mr. Connor and the Center for a Just Society, go to www.ajustsociety.org. Your feedback is welcome; please email firstname.lastname@example.org.