Bigger Than the Picture Frame

I remember as kids playing a game called King of the Hill also known as King of the Mountain or Castle. The focus of the game was to take control of the top of the hill or pile of trash, sand or any other designated area as the Hill. The other players are to attempt knocking down whoever is at the top of the hill to become king. Ordinarily, pushing was the most common way of removing the current king but the game usually got worse with variations of kicking, punching and pulling. Winning was achieved at the cost of displacing the King of the Hill. This game has no system or hierarchy, everybody had a chance to become king and how long you stayed on top of the hill or pile depicted strength. Like this game, I’ve watched as many ideologies or systems of belief get debunked by new discoveries. More and more our view of the gospel and livelihood has been narrowed down to a simple transaction or king of the hill school of thought. We minimize the concern for the persecuted, hungry and broken to maintain the status quo.

The birth of Jesus is not a story of Jesus ascending the mountain of power but rather a humble descent into the heart and experience of mankind. The Jews expected a conquering King with an army that would defeat Rome and transcend it ranks. The story of Jesus’ birth was not a battle to get to the top of the command chain, moral scorekeeper or become a supernatural Santa Claus. I believe Christmas is an enigmatic form of art portraying an invitation to share at the divine table we call salvation. Jesus comes forth from eternity, allowing us to participate at his banquet table as partners in God’s eternal desire for love and communion. 

Instead of making room to be transformed inside out, the birth of Jesus has been boiled down to some form of insurance policy. As long as the policy is in effect, we can live whatever life we choose. The problem with this limited view is that salvation was not meant to be a way to leave the world but rather a means to redeem it. This is God personally intervening and taking on the affairs of mankind. 

Have we reduced the dynamic and beautiful motif of God’s love for the world to a bare, grainy, black and white portrait? In doing so we have set the picture frame and stripped much of the power and ability of the Christmas story to change not only the human heart but also the world.

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