Monday, December 14, 2009
The Surrender in Christmas . . .
Hello All! I hope that this finds you well and your hearts being prepared more and more each day for the amazing day we call Christmas. We had a nice couple of days last week visiting Mary Ann's family in the Los Angeles area for a homeschool trip we took with the girls (and, yes, rest well, I was able to spend some good time studying in a coffee shop near her mom's house). We got to visit the La Brea tar pits (the outside grounds because there was a power outage and the museum itself was closed) and the Griffith Observatory (our family must have looked pretty funny counting to three and then jumping up and down as hard as we could to try and get the seismograph to register our movement!).
I put a few pictures here from our trip for you to enjoy it with us. They are: 1) The girls in front of the La Brea "lake" display, 2) Mary Ann and the girls at the observatory model of the size of some stars—our sun would be the size of one of the tiny yellow dots straight above Abigail's head if the large yellow and red balls represented some of the giant and super giant stars out there, 3) Me next to the scale that informed me I would weigh over 500 pounds on Jupiter (I think I'm staying home!).
Christmas is almost here, and as I shared with our fellowship yesterday, I just can't grasp or wrap myself around the fact that the God who breathes out stars and holds the universe in His hand is also the baby in the manger . . . that the baby in the manger is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the One before whom demons tremble . . . that God is surrounded on the throne by the multitudes of angels and hosts of heaven worshiping Him in the glory He deserves and yet He came to earth, laid in a manger, greeted by shepherds, hunted, mutilated, murdered—by choice, for us, His rebellious creation.
I can't grasp that. Any words fall so short of its majesty and love. But one thing that I do grasp about it comes from Philippians 2:5-8 which says: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Surrendering our rights is a hallmark of Christianity and the only true way we can, I believe, reflect Christ's image and truly model the heart that made Christmas. It is not easy in a society that prides itself on individual rights, but that is probably why it stands out as such contrast from everyone else when it is done. It is hard because, by the very nature of the word, they are our rights. But Jesus, who had every right as God, didn't hold on to His rights but surrendered them and came to earth as one of us to be subject to our same temptations and limitations and dependence on the Holy Spirit. He who had every right to judge us, to stay in heaven where He was worshiped and recognized, to obliterate His attackers, gave it all up, by choice, of His own free will, in love. He laid His rights down at His Father's feet that His Father's will might be done and His Father glorified.
I don't think we can truly capture, or model, the heart of Christmas until we capture, and model, the heart of surrendered rights. Yes, we have a "right" to be apologized to, a right to freedom, a right to be acknowledged, a right to be heard, a right to be comfortable, a right to justice when we are wronged, a right to . . . but until we are willing to lay our rights down at the Father's feet we will never live as Jesus lived. This doesn't mean, say, as parents that we contradict other parts of God's Word that tell us to be heads of our home and to train up our children, or that we contradict other parts of His Word, but it does mean that if we are to truly show the world Christ, and Christmas, we have to be willing to say, "Yes, that is my right to ____, but I chose to surrender that right and humble myself, in love, for my Father and for another." It is only when we let go of our tight cling to this life and its comforts and "rights" that we will truly live a life focused from heaven, to earth, as Jesus did. The only way to show heaven to earth, and to show the Father's heart to man, is to live as in heaven and as the Father, and that is modeled, in Christmas, with surrender.
Note: Please still consider answering my request to you in the post: So, You've Been Given the Pulpit . . . Christmas. I would truly treasure your answers, and I believe others would be blessed by them as well as you being blessed by the prayer and thought it would require.