If You Only Do One Thing This Christmas, Make it This

{By Lana Jackson}

I like driving around my neighborhood at Christmastime. I love seeing how creative some people can get with lights—simple pleasures in life, right? Well, what I love even more are the manger scenes that some houses or churches put out on their front lawns. Every year, I drive by them and smile and think, mhmm nice to see some of us know what Christmas is really about. And then I keep on driving. And driving. Easily missing this little nugget of goodness contained in that manger scene—that God came into our world in the form of a child.

I know, I know what you’re thinking. Duh . . .

That’s what I thought too, until God showed me something really cool as I was reading my bible in my cubicle, on a very odd Wednesday morning. I say it was odd because I don’t really like Wednesdays, there’s something really weird about them. Anyway, I was flipping around in the scriptures trying to find something to read, you know the magic 8 ball devotional method—I don’t recommend it, but the Holy Spirit obliged and God showed me this:

“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built?

It’s a clip from 1 Kings 8:27, the scene where Solomon is praying at the dedication service for the temple he had built in Jerusalem. In his prayer, he’s basically asking God this rhetorical question: “umm God, quick question, how is it that you can be contained in this building we have made here when there isn’t even room enough for you in the vast expanse of the cosmos?”

Interesting point King Solomon—great question. That guy, he is so smart.

So that got me thinking, if there isn’t room enough in the highest heaven for God, because his glory and magnificence are so exceedingly massive, how could God contain himself in a baby?

At this point, I’ll just stop. I won’t even attempt to answer this question with some kind of jedi mind-trick theology. I don’t know how God did this. None of us really knows how this could even be possible, God becoming a child? We know about the Immaculate Conception of course, but the inner workings of how God pulled this off remains one of the most profound and beautiful mysteries of the Christian faith. With of course the second greatest mystery being that in God’s mathematical gymnastics 5+2 = 5,000 with a remainder of 12 (see also: ‘The Feeding of the Five Thousand, Matthew 14:13-21). I digress.

Instead, what I will share with you is the train of thought that followed as I made this Christmas discovery about God being contained in a child, here’s what I was thinking:

An unwed teen mom. Her fiancé. A baby in a manger. Holy scene. All the feels. Smile. Keep walking. But wait, contained in that child are depths of forever, multiplied by infinity. Inside this child is a Savior of whom it is said, that his face is like the sun shining in full force (Revelations 1:16). A being so dreadfully powerful, breathtakingly divine, and utterly holy that he dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16).

Unapproachable. Light. What is that?

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You know Jesus, some people say that the reason you were able to turn water into wine, was because when the water saw you, it’s Creator, it blushed. Whoa. Is there any truth to that explanation?

Anyway, I think I understand now Lord, how Solomon felt when he said: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaves cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built?”

And yet, you contained yourself in human flesh as a baby. And yet, you walked our earth as a man. Constraining yourself to things like time and space—creations that should be in submission to you, which you allowed to become containers for you.

Could you really dwell on earth God?

Yes. And he did. He contained his glory in the tiny heartbeat of an infant, who would become a man that would give up his life to bring many lost sons and daughters to glory. A man who would not only absorb the brokenness of the world in his body, but would absolve the world of its sins with his blood.

How does a Deity, whom the highest heavens cannot contain, contain himself in human flesh?

No wonder the grave couldn’t hold him—heaven can barely contain him.

I guess you would call that a Christmas miracle. I call it inconceivable. But just because I cannot conceive it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It’s just so far above me—like a fourth grader trying to understand the artistic complexities of the Sistine Chapel from a poster in his art classroom. I look at it and smile and think, this is awesome but I’ll never get it and so I move on because . . .

“It is possible for the most majestic and beautiful things to lay overlooked and hidden and forgotten because of its incredible superiority amidst the commonness of its surroundings—that we don’t recognize it, it’s too above us. And we walk about it unknowing, darkened, and unaffected simply because of the superlativeness of its beauty.” – Tommy Nelson

I don’t have anything against fourth graders, I promise. I just don’t want to be like that—you know, unaffected? I don’t want to move on from the manger anymore. I don’t want to forget the complex beauty that lives there.

 

 

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