Christ­mas

The Sun News - - News - – Christo­pher Si­mon

Chris­tian­ity is a re­li­gion of para­doxes, and one of the most para­dox­i­cal el­e­ments of Chris­tian­ity is the in­car­na­tion, the idea that God be­came man, be­ing born as a help­less child in the hum­blest of cir­cum­stances. Nativity scenes memo­ri­al­ize this event, show­ing a baby ly­ing in a manger, which is noth­ing more than a feed­ing trough for do­mes­ti­cated an­i­mals. But Je­sus’s birth is only the first of many para­doxes. At the other end of Je­sus’s life is the para­dox of the almighty God let­ting him­self be taunted and tor­tured, and ul­ti­mately let­ting him­self die an ig­no­min­ious death by hang­ing on a cross. We do well to re­mem­ber that Chris­tian­ity turns many virtues on their head. Strength, pride and wis­dom are re­placed by weak­ness, hu­mil­ity and a kind of naivete or sim­ple-mind­ed­ness. At this time of year when we cel­e­brate Christ’s birth with lav­ish spend­ing and gift-giv­ing, we do well to re­mem­ber that ma­te­rial things are golden fet­ters and that poverty makes us free to live a sim­pler, more spir­i­tual life. The Son of God was born in a manger, and as He him­self told a po­ten­tial fol­lower, he still had nowhere to lay his head. Je­sus ap­pears to be telling this man to count the cost of be­com­ing his fol­lower. Christ­mas might make us think that Chris­tian­ity is noth­ing but sweet­ness and light when in fact it’s in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to be a good Chris­tian.

“As they were walk­ing along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will fol­low you wher­ever you go.’ Je­sus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’” —Luke 9:57-58 NIV

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