Last time we looked at how Christ revealing himself in such a humble manner and living an equally humble life revealed how God chooses to relate with us. He desires to get down on our level so that He can bring us up. God felt what every person feels in life: sorrow, pain, adversity, hope, hardship, love and conflict. God did this as a gift to us, that He might relate with us better and that we might relate with Him greater. Today, we turn our attention to another thing that came when Christ arrived. It is still something that exists after His first coming. That thing? Controversy
We know that there is no controversy when it comes to the mystery of godliness and the deity of God and His actions on this Earth (1 Timothy 3:16). However, to think that when Christ came, he didn't bring controversy would be a mistake. Christ's birth and life brought with it controversy and it still brings controversy to this day. Let's examine:
Christ's coming was controversial for Herod. He knew that if there was another King of the Jews, his kingship would be in jeopardy. He moved first to manipulate 3 men to find the young Christ and then he ordered the death of all children around Christ's age. Before Christ was old enough to string together a full sentence, a genocide was committed because He existed and one man misinterpreted what it meant. When we hold on to our earthly possessions, titles and pursuits tighter than our faith in God, we risk missing Christ when He comes to do His will in our lives. Just like Herod, our denial of God may hurt more than us.
Christ's coming was controversial for the Pharisees, Sadducees and Sanhedrin. They had control of the people, able to manipulate them against the Romans while also accepting the benefits of having the Legions within their borders to control rebellions and controversy. His coming and following meant that their authority over the people would be no more. They tried to undermine Christ at every turn because they loved their power and control more than they loved God and His Word. When we put our traditions and legal interpretations of the Bible ahead of God's Word as it is revealed to us, we risk missing Christ when He comes to offer understanding, direction and blessings.
Christ's coming was controversial for many of the Children of Israel. They had expected a warrior, a king or a politician to come. They had in their minds the stories of Joshua, Samson and David when they thought about Messiah. Christ was just a carpenter from a backwoods region talking about loving enemies, forgiving others and a kingdom that none could see. They missed his message because they didn't like the way he looked or the message he presented. When we put our expectations of Christ ahead of the reality of who He is and what He desires, we miss out on the blessed hope of true salvation and establishment in God's Kingdom.
Christ's coming would become controversial for the Roman Empire. History's greatest kingdom would have to face down the reality that Christianity was growing and spreading throughout its provinces. It even came to its capital city. As a result, the Empire chose to first outlaw the religion and martyr its followers in gruesome manners. Eventually, the Empire would discover they could not destroy the religion, so they abandoned their paganism and joined the Church. When we choose secularism over Christ, we'll find ourselves fighting a losing battle as the cause of Christ advances.
Christ's coming was controversial for other religions past, present and future. If Christ really was and is God manifest in the flesh and then justified in the Spirit, that means all other religions, ideas and practical paths are false or incomplete. They may have some truth and goodness within them. Their followers may include many well meaning people. However, without Christ, they are just beliefs founded on vain words.
Finally, Christ's coming is controversial for many modern Christians. For many, Christianity is a tradition that we celebrate, especially at Christmastime. We think of Christ's birth and the manger, but never take to heart that this scene was the beginning for us in our walk with Him. We are in awe of Christ and the sacrifice of His life and death, but we do not talk or walk with Him. We obey are pastors and even the Word of God that we read, but we never take it to heart. For many, Christianity is a hollow shell we use to hide our true desires: selfish consumption of this life. The things and cares of this life consume us and push relationship with Christ to the side. To look in the mirror and see ourselves and relationship with God for where it really is and where God wants it to be is controversial. It means that our tidy world isn't going to last any longer. Things are going to have to be abandoned to get close to Him or we will have to abandon Him to draw nearer to those things.
Only Christ and His ways leads to eternal salvation, fulfillment and true joy. That is controversial for many, but not for those who truly believe. This Christmas, let us remember that while Christ's coming brought a lot of controversy (and still does), their is nothing controversial about what happens when we find true relationship with Him.
Tune in next week for our final installment of the Christmas Gift series. God bless and keep searching.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.