Do you like the baby Jesus the best?

by Kyle
published December 13, 2012


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In the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Ricky Bobby, played by Will Ferrell, says a prayer over their meal of Dominos Pizza, KFC fried chicken and "the ever-delicious Taco Bell."

In his prayer - intended by the writers to be satire - Ricky Bobby prays to the baby Jesus, thanking Him for the millions of dollars he had made by winning NASCAR races. Despite protests from his family, he insists on praying to "tiny little 8-pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus [who] don’t even know a word yet." (sic) He exclaims that he likes the "Christmas Jesus" the best, and that you can pray to whichever Jesus you want. The Jesus his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. likes to picture wears a tuxedo t-shirt because he likes to be formal, but also party.

I have long felt a little resentful about Christmas. It has always felt fake, but that resentment has always been a just feeling, irrational at best. I would justify my feelings with facts, saying, "Well, Jesus wasn’t born in the winter, anyways. It’s a pagan syncretism," or "You know, Jeremiah 10:3-4 actually forbids Christmas trees." (That last one is a actually taken way out of context and isn’t talking about Christmas trees at all, but I liked to use it anyways just to buck the system.) It still bothers me to see the wise men at a nativity scene because they didn’t come to see Jesus until he was nearly two years old and living in a house in Bethlehem.

When I started to work on becoming a pastor, a mentor pointed out to me that Christmas stuff is a pretty big part of being a pastor, and I would have to figure out what to do with Christmas if that’s what I wanted to pursue. So I started thinking about it, and I couldn’t put my finger on the real reason why I really didn’t like Christmas.

I never realized it until I saw Talladega Nights some time in the summer the other year while my thoughts couldn’t be further from Christmas.

It struck me: our whole culture worships the baby Jesus at Christmas. We like the baby version of God’s Son. We choose the Christ that doesn’t threaten us. We worship the Jesus who, if He does anything but lay there silently, just wants to bless us with plenty of money and lots of completely unneccessary gifts under the tree.

You may say, "Keep Christ in Christmas," by I’d ask you which Christ you want to keep. Do you want the one in a tuxuedo t-shirt? When you hear Jesus between Black Friday and December 25, are you thinking of a helpless little baby? Or do you see the Godman, the Almighty made flesh?

This is the baby who would purge the temple and call religious leaders a "pit of vipers" and "white-washed tombs." This is the baby who would later command the forces of nature and the very power of Satan just by speaking. This is the baby who, though He didn’t know a word, was Himself the Word. This child Stuart Townend - the lyricist behind the modern hymn "In Christ Alone" - calls the "fullness of God in helpless babe."

Most importantly, this is the baby who saved you and me from the very wrath of God, reconciled us to Him and even audaciously called us His friends.

The real Jesus challenges you with the words he came to know. He threatens the idea of self, claiming you cannot really live until you let Him kill it. He is dangerous. He is so dangerous, people killed Him to try to shut Him up. Even that didn’t work.

This Christmas, I dare you to choose the real Jesus. I dare you to trust and worship the One who will actually and radically change your life; the One whom you can look to with awe rather than the cute little infant we can all look at and just say, "aww."

You Christmas tree will look different and your credit card bill will be shorter, but Christ - the real Jesus who became a real man - will be the One who gives you Life and Life abundantly this Christmas season.

What do you think?

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