The Humility of Christmas by John Arndt
This week, billions of people will remember the story of a baby, the unbelievable promise an unwed mother hid in her heart, and a concerned refugee father-to-be who of angels. These moments are often swept away in faith traditions that prioritize the grand actions of the cross, but in this season we are invited to remember small beginnings. As my childhood pastor used to say, when God wants to do something great, he sends a baby.
We (at Integer) are committed to finding ways to reflect lives that display loving connection, that produce spiritual, emotionally and physically healthy humans, and we can’t help but be fascinated by the story of a descending God into human limitations. The vulnerability of those limitations didn’t hinder God’s purpose, but served to reclaim connection and identify with a devastated, disintegrated, and occupied people.
Babies invite an intimate reaction even by strangers; a huddling closer to hover over soft skin and cooing sounds. There’s something so vulnerable about newborn babies that provokes a hushed, protective posture, and this is how Jesus made his entrance into humanity.
What must it have been like to step from a throne room into that manger? Phillipians (NIV) exhorts us that “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Christ cloaked himself with humanity, with its limitations, a life-long journey in obedience, pain and suffering. He could have descended down from heavenly palaces; a full-blown prophet on a chariot of fire to take up the atoning work of the cross, but he chose a different Way. He let himself be born, grow up, experience the same messy family dynamics so many of us experience, the same misunderstandings that pull at the threads between how we see ourselves and how others see us. What an astonishing act of humility, to gather humanity to himself in his faithful expression of God’s redeeming works.
This is consistent with some of the other stories about Him. His last night with his friends and students, he chose to get down on the dirty ground and clean their smelly feet as a picture of what leadership actually looks like.
This Christmas season, as we gather with friends and family, naturally reflecting on the close of one year and beginning of another, may we find some space that isn’t overrun with financial needs or political spectacles and reflect on the humility of God. The invitation is there for us all; the natural arc of vulnerability from birth to our adult spheres of influential leadership, modeled by a powerful Savior calling us to reflect his same generosity and compassion.
John Arndt Integer Network Coach