Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

In Other Words . . . We Still Forget!

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 09 December 2008

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas. . . perhaps
. . . means a 'little' bit more."
~ Dr. Suess - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

We forget.

We go crazy at Christmastime with light displays and decorating, planning and partying, gifts and gaiety, crafts and cuisine, even blog carnivals. And the shopping. . . oh my!

Oh sure, we do our best to put the focus on “The Real Reason. . .”

But . . . we forget.

We pause - *sigh* - when we hear the news of yet another school district banning the sacred music of the Season. Our hearts sink deeper every year as we witness the culture's sinister attacks on this Season of our Saviour's Birth.

Yet. . . we still forget.

We are occupied with Bethlehem when we should be focused on Gethsemane.

Is it possible to get too caught up in the “story” of Jesus’ birth? Do people take the baby Jesus thing too far? People seem to revel in the “tender” side of God’s nature, putting aside thoughts of sin and righteousness.

We dress up children in costumes and sing angelic-sounding songs. It’s almost too much to resist. Don’t misunderstand me. This aspect of Jesus’ story is important, even vital to understanding the Messiah. But the biblical focus on Jesus is not on His birth.

The real focus is some thirty years later, at an execution scene. There was no tender moment at that place. The air was, instead, ripe with evil.

The baby of the manger was murdered.

Birth did bring God’s Son into the world and give Him a body like you and like me. But this miraculous Birth is just one small piece of a much greater and grander story -- a story that ties Genesis to Revelation -- a story that spans generations and centuries -- a story which continues right up to this very second. It's the story of Redemption!

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
~ John 1:14

Why did God choose to send a child? Why didn’t Jesus just come to earth as a fully-grown adult? In fitting with the whole of Scripture and the entire plan of Redemption, the idea was that Jesus be involved in human relationships. Jesus needed to know what it’s like to be human. And he does.

While on earth, Jesus was hurt. He cried. He was hungry. He was angry. He was happy. He grew. And like us, He experienced human limitations. He bled. He got hungry. He needed sleep. And it’s probably safe to assume that, just as any other precious infant, the human part of baby Jesus needed constant care. As a toddler, He needed discipline; and as a child, direction. God used those formative years to prepare Jesus for His ministry and ultimately for death on a cross.

Let’s get caught up in the Baby Jesus "story" for a minute, shall we?

Imagine you had been walking down a city street or sitting in a coffee shop in Bethlehem that evening and overheard someone say something about a King being in town?

If someone had told you, “Follow this street to the alleyway behind Starbuck's and you’ll find Him in a manger,” wouldn’t you have hurried along toward that alley?

I wonder how many of us upon arriving at the manger, with disappointment in our hearts, would say, “But it’s only a child,” and walk away -- frustrated that we'd left our gourmet coffee behind for nothing.

Scripture does tell us that people were expecting the Savior to be a warrior. They were hoping for someone who would overtake the oppressive leaders of the time and they believed God would do it the way any man would… by force.

How many people do you suppose breathed sighs of despair when they saw that God had instead sent . . . a child?

As mothers, that’s hard to think about. Our children are the world to us and we’d do anything for them. Most of us have sacrificed much to care for them, discipline them, direct them and form them into adults.

But the child stage is so momentary. Children are like . . . plaster! I was working with plaster a few days ago. While fresh and wet, it can be shaped into almost anything. Over time (actually about 15 minutes), the plaster hardens, and shaping is much more difficult impossible.

We all have a part in shaping the plaster of the children in our lives. Their little hearts and minds are so pliable. We can teach them good or evil. We can teach them selfishness or compassion.

Do you believe God was doing the same thing with His own Son? I do. God brought Jesus into this world as a child so He could shape Jesus into the man He wanted His son to become.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
~Luke 2:52

Jesus needed to grow in favor with God because the human part of Him had to be shaped into the character God had planned. That reality should help us realize just how crucial it is that we use our time wisely when it comes to our children and grandchildren. If God realized the importance of shaping His own child’s “plaster,” how can we do any different with our children?

Over the next weeks, many of us will be scouring crowded stores looking for the perfect toys and clothes and gadgets and . . . stuff. We will envision the excitement on our children’s and grandchildren’s faces as they open their gifts.

But we forget. . .

Beyond what we find in the stores, let's spend some time thinking about what’s going on inside their hearts – how their “plaster” is being shaped. Let’s remember a powerful yet often overlooked verse in The Book of Psalm:

"Children are a gift from God…”
~ Psalm 127:3

Let’s never get to that point where -- as some did some two thousand years ago -- we say, “But, it’s only a child." Jesus came as a tiny, precious baby --Yes! But God’s plan for Him was far more remarkable.

. . . He just needed his plaster shaped before HE GAVE HIS LIFE.

Maybe Christmas. . . perhaps
. . . means a 'little' bit more."


~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
2008 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife
The article also submitted for publication to
Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN

In Other Words is hosted today by Lori at All You Have to Give.

25 comments:

john burreson said...

This must be read more than once to appreciate the Truth and beauty. Even when we do get the Season in proper perspective, we are still "occupied with Bethlehem when we should be focused on Gethsemane." Amen.

micey said...

Wow! The Lord has really given you a gift! Beautiful post!

Denise said...

Amen, beautifully said.

Susan said...

Thanks so much for this awesome reminder of why we truly celebrate this season.

This was awesome Esthermay. I appreciate your gift.

I'm going to mediate on these thoughts today~

MiPa said...

Well said. Great perspective.

Heather of S-A-M said...

Whew Girl! PREACH IT!

I am 100% in agreement with you on this one! The focus has been misdirected to "just another birthday." Rather than realizing that this birth was like no other because of what Jesus did for us on the hill, nailed to a cross, beaten and bruised. Paying the debt that was ours alone!

My heart sings to know that I am not the only one out there longing for the real meaning of Christmas to please stand up!

This is my first attendance @ I.O.W. and i'm enjoying reading all your girls awesome writings!

Be Blessed,
Heathet

Karen said...

"...but we forget..." we get caught up in the flow and leave Jesus behind. We need to take Him with us wherever we go. Thanks for your great post.

lori said...

From the back row...Preach on!
What a great message here girl! I'm with john...I've got to go back and read it AGAIN...really slowly...

Thanks for joining me you Dr. Seuss basher!LOL

lori:)

Laurie Ann said...

I love your perspective on this, Esthermay! It's awesome. From His birth to His resurrection, and to His return and eternity, may His Name be forever praised!

Kris said...

another beautiful post...i am so glad we bumped into each other on the web...

kw

Andrea said...

Everytime I read your blog, I scratch my head and wonder how you can put such truth and wisdom into words on a website? Profound! Yes, even when we do focus on His birth, we've got it wrong. It's ALL about the CROSS! Amen.

And how you got this from Dr. Suess:?????

kalopoieo said...

"a story that ties Genesis to Revelation -- a story that spans generations and centuries. . . "

Most people don't understand the Bible. Christ makes His first appearance in Genesis. He's been there all along. You got it!

It's not about the baby Jesus. It's about His work on the CROSS.

Rachel said...

Esthermay, what a WONDERFUL post!!!

I struggle with the same issues. I don't ever want to take away from the fact that the Lord made Himself man and humbled himself by being born a child, but it is His resurrection that gives us our life, not His birth! It should all have focus, from the manger to the cross!

You have so much wisdom, it blows my mind. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Barbara said...

Esthermay, I'm going to have to start sending you a check for the use of your material. This is beautiful and I share it with my Bible study tomorrow. A great meditation thought is this that we think we're on the right path when we forget the materialism of Christmas and focus on the manger. But, we forget. Redemption has little to do with the manger and everything to do with the cross.
Wonderful post.

Ben said...

EXCELLENT!
Amen.

lori said...

I was just getting through ALL the posts from today and I see that EVEN your heart has grown 3 sizes in regards to the "theology" of Dr. Suess!! LOL!!

I'm so happy that we've helped you here today!!
He's not such a bad guy after all...:) BIG SMILES!!

Esthermay...you have a way with words and a WIT about you that just cracks me UP!
Peace and MERRIEST Christmas to you!!
lori

lori said...

I JUST READ your comment over on my site....YOU ARE JUST TOOOOOOOO FUNNY...but I'm glad to see, that we, made a fan of she....
It was a bit rough, she had lots of stuff...
She will go on now and shout, She'll let it all out...now Esthermay, no need to pout. We all have our days, when clouds fog our ways,
We're just happy to see,
What a Suess fan you'll be!

WHEW! That's harder than it looks:D

:: jamie :: said...

Awesome post. Thank you for your thoughts & sharing what God laid on your heart!

In our Sunday school lesson this week, our teacher urged us to think of an invasion (like a military invasion) when we think of the nativity because Christ's purpose was to deliver us from darkness (Col. 1:13). Not the warm & cuddly cute baby Jesus idea we like to think of, but the birth of Christ was a big step towards God's ultimate plan of redeeming us.

Kate said...

Whoah! You do have to read this again to get hit in the head with its awesome truth!
How many people (I'm thinking of my own church, sadly) even connect Christmas with Good Friday and Easter? Awesome read. Great lesson. I must see more of this In Other Words. I LOVE Dr. Suess.

Just wondering. Did they have Starbucks back then?

Kate said...

I guess I'm hoping you don't think I go to some wierd mooney church. I should re-think things before I post them.
:-(
I think you know what I mean. Most "Christians" (see I put that word in quotes) are very shallow and you have to wonder if they're really saved of if they just come to church for the potlucks. Know what I mean?
-k

Jenn said...

Beautiful post...love the Christmas music on your blog too...

Melanie said...

Such a beautiful post, Esthermay! May none of us ever forget or think the story of Jesus less important than it really is!

Have a great weekend!

sara said...

Esthermay, that was a beautifully written post and has really touched my heart today. Thank you.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Well-spoken, as usual.

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

That was a great post.

Thanks!

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