Sunday, December 23, 2012

Adoring the Baby Jesus, ignoring the Adult Jesus

For many Christians, once Jesus is born, with all the stories and songs of Christmas done for another year, they feel they can safely ignore him until, at Easter, they can celebrate his brutal death and resurrection. But this ignores completely what happens in between these important events, and reflects, perhaps, a deliberate diminishing of the mission of Jesus as God’s chosen Prophet and Savior.

Why is this so? Why is the adult Jesus ignored while the Baby Jesus and the Dying and Rising Jesus is so adored? It’s because the Baby Jesus, all cute and cuddly, portrayed in a lowly manger, is completely nonthreatening and unassuming. This Jesus asks nothing except our ‘Ooo’s’ and “Ahh's” – our sweet Christmas pageants with the angels and the animals and the Three Wise Men bringing presents.

But what comes AFTER the arrival of the Baby Jesus is the Adult Jesus. And that’s a Jesus many have trouble accepting, let alone following. In fact, many, many Christian preachers believe we can safely ignore the One who says we are required to love our neighbors EXACTLY as we love ourselves, that we must love God with everything in our hearts, minds and souls, and that we must serve others selflessly, including forgiving others and living a life of non-resistance, all the while being Lights to the world by consistently doing good works.

That’s DIFFICULT! It’s far easier to go back and sing Christmas carols about little drummer boys and Silent Nights, isn’t it? It’s easier to retreat to our religious comfort zones rather than live the difficult (but in fact, easy yoke) Jesus wishes us to take up and bear with him, God’s perfect example.

It’s far easier to make excuses and claim that the Adult Jesus who taught these things is really not relevant to us today, despite his own claims that his teachings would never pass away.

Just as there are many Christians who live their Christian lives on the outskirts of the Bible – pretending that it only consists of the Garden of Eden of the Book of Genesis and the terrifying End Days visions in the Book of Revelations – there are many who retreat to the comforting place of Jesus’ birth and the simple salvation formula of adoring the Cross and speaking a “Password Prayer” that (they believe) allows them to get into Heaven without those pesky “tough” words of the Adult Jesus.

But that won’t do. The grown-up Jesus – God’s chosen Prophet and Son, God’s spokesman on Earth who showed us the way in which God wishes us to live, and the one who set for us high standards that he knew we could achieve – that is the one we must remember arrived on that long ago Christmas Day.

Each of us, individually, are called to pursue daily the Kingdom of God that Jesus commissioned us to pursue. That, truly, is the “Reason for the Season.”

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