Christ: Gift or threat?

Like many Christians, my heart warms when I gaze on manger scenes at Christmas time.

I see Jesus, coming in the form of a baby to humble parents – the all-powerful God setting out on a mission to rescue me and bring me into his family.  He comes in such a gentle, unthreatening way.

But many others see him as a threat.

We see this in many places in our Western world today.  Some schools ban any mention of Christmas and the Christmas story even as they allow other traditions to speak of their holidays.

Yet the shepherds and the wise men journeyed to see the little baby because they considered him a great gift.  They worshipped him.

On the other hand, Herod saw him as a threat to his rule as King of Judea.  On hearing about him from the wise men, he tried to kill the infant Jesus.

That is the way it has been ever since.  Some worship him and others try to destroy him and his followers by words and deeds.

The apostle Paul recognized this.  In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, he describes the reaction of people to his preaching about the gift of salvation through Christ.  He says:

“To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of  death and doom.  But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.”

As a believer, I find this hard to understand.  Why do people fear – and even hate – Christ?

Perhaps it has something to do with losing control.  Putting my faith in Jesus means admitting there is someone greater than me.  As Isaiah said, God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

As well, believing that Jesus died for my mistakes and sins means acknowledging that I am not good enough on my own to deserve to be with God.

If you believe that humanity is the highest form of life, God is someone you thrust out of your mind.  The thought of God smacks of dependence.

Or, perhaps you do believe in God – but not the loving God that Jesus represents.

That love is truly astonishing.  Rather than coming as a conquering king, Jesus came as a tiny bundle of human flesh.

He wanted his message of peace with God and everlasting love to be for everyone – poor just as much as rich.

He came to die, knowing he would be rejected by many.  He came to die for me – and you.

He did this so that we could be with him always, forever in his embrace.

What a gift.

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