Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hens and Thoughts for Christmas

"On the third night of Christmas my true love gave to me
                                     Three french hens!  Two turtle doves! 
And a partridge in a pear tree!"
Mu-ha-ha fear my awesome google-images + paint abilities!
I give you ... three french hens!
I've got Christmas-related-thoughts, so I'm going with the whole today-is-only-the-3rd-of-12-days-of-Christmas giving me until Epiphany in January. On that note, let me wish you a merry day-three-of-x-mas! Enjoy the French chickens! And here are my mildly-ramble-ly-thoughts:

Particularly around Christmas I start hearing the idea that Jesus was "born to die" being thrown around way too much.  I could hardly disagree more. My problem is not with the concept that Jesus died to redeem us from brokenness and sin -- That is sound theology to me, I believe that. What I do not agree with is the born-to-die bit. I do not believe that Christ's only reason for the incarnation was to be killed. 

This sort of thinking also leads to songs as bloody awful-and-unforgivable as "You lived to die/ Rejected and alone/ Like a rose/ Trampled on the ground/ You took the fall/ And thought of me/ Above all" My personal opinion is that craptastic song is over played, utter malarkey, complete horse manure, and weak theology.

[Now, I still consider myself Christian and base my beliefs on the Bible, so if there is a verse that springs to your mind which I should be considering and am failing to, please let me know.]

My thinking is basically this: if the sole purpose of Christ's birth was to die, or to be killed, then why didn't the angels have them stay in town? Jesus would have been killed under Harod's order in the Massacre of the Innocents. Jesus still would have been the sinless-God-and-man-blameless-sacrifice, the debt of sin could have still been paid, and the curse of death broken forever. If the reason for Jesus' life was only his death he could have died much younger.

However, the gospel and apostles never say that Christ was born to die. In Matthew 20 Jesus says "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." If the Son of Man simply came just to give his life as a ransom for many, it would have been done much sooner. Instead Jesus lived his life, a full average-life-expectancy-of-the-time thirty-some-years before he gave his life as a ransom.  He lived a full lifetime loving people, healing people, freeing people, teaching people, and all around serving people.

I don't think the purpose of Jesus' life was all that different from the purpose of anyone else. 
He was born to love,   to be loved,   and to do what only he could do. 
Christ loved God, and loved people, and redeemed us in a way he uniquely could. I believe that every person ever was born to do the exact same thing: to love Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, love people, and to make the world better by doing what they particularly do. Be it making good art, raising healthy babies, writing great books, discovering fractals, building beautiful skyscrapers, educating children, or making people laugh. Or in the case of the incarnate son of God: to redeem humanity from brokenness, sin, and death through his blood. 

Even if Jesus had been killed as a toddler instead of fleeing to Egypt, his purpose would still have been to love people and to do what he was created to do. I do not believe anyone is born to die no matter how young they die -- certainly not someone who lives on this earth for roughly three decades. That seems like downright bad theology to me. 

When the meaning of Christmas becomes Jesus' death instead of his birth I think we miss out on both the wonder and importance of the incarnation. (Plus that's what Good Friday is for anyway.) I believe the significance of the Christmas is the incarnation: that the God of the Universe, prime mover, original creator, and Love itself would become a human being. Fully human, trusting the hormones and body of a fully-human-girl to knit together his arms, legs, head, heart, teeny fingers, and tiny toes. He was born with a newborn's under-developed-eyes and impressively-loud-wailing when hungry and unable to feed himself. Because despite it all, humans are worthy of the Son of God.  The very act of becoming one of us made us worthy. There is now nothing in the universe more dignified than mankind. God putting himself fully on our level raises us up. 

That is why Holy Night is one of my favorite carols (even if it is over played as well.) "Long lay the world in sin and error pining/ 'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth/ A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices/ For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn"  Good solid theology. 

So I believe Christmas is about the hope and worth. I believe every single person has an eternal soul of immeasurable worth, and that they were born to love, to do what they can uniquely do, and to be loved. 
I wish you a joyous Christmas and a new year full of bright hope!


  1. holy cow. this post had me wanting to stand on a chair shouting, cheering you on... and then wanting to hide behind my chair because you said things that I know specific people won't like, raising my eyebrows at things that I'll have to ponder further, and then it brought me to tears. Thanks for writing this. I'm going to share a link to it on my own blog if you don't mind. Jess and I are excited to reconnect with you in person soon.

  2. Thank you so much Jim! My theology these days does tend along the eyebrow-raising, semi-controversial, but I love to discuss it. Can't wait to meet up with you and Jess (and thanks for the link!)

  3. I think, though, that when you say his purpose was no different than anyone else's, but because he's God incarnate, it plays itself out in a very unique and important way (his death & resurrection), it ends up in the same place (or at least near it) as the view you're criticizing, particularly if we take into account the idea that he knew all along (because...Jesus). If he knew that that was the way in which he would live out your proposed true purpose of everyone (a purpose which, I think, I agree with), I still don't see an explanation in this post of why wait the 30 years. I'm trying to say: I really like this, but I think you haven't explained/explored the worth of what folks call his "earthly ministry", that is the healings and the teachings.

  4. Yes, that's probably true that I haven't explained/ explored that part of it enough. What would you say is the reason for the 30 years or the worth of his ministry while alive?