Christmas and Power
In our culture, Christmas seems so neat and tidy. Nice looking baby in a well tended manger surrounded by well-groomed animals and all of that.
But the reality is that the Christmas story was far from the sanitized version we embrace (or consume?!?) each Winter. In fact, yesterday at church, the preacher called the Christmas story “kind of a downer.” She (she!) went on to describe the litany of brokenness that surrounded Jesus’ birth:
A hint of sexual scandal, abject poverty, homelessness, oppression. And let’s not forget the crown jewel of Christmas-time brokenness, infanticide.
Time to rethink our Hallmark cards perhaps?!?
Let’s face it, for Jesus the Incarnation was a messy journey from power to powerlessness. Think about it. It’s a long way from the awesome trappings of Heaven to the sordid confines of Earth.
In fact, Christmas marks the largest power exchange in human history.
And Christmas was just the start, as a careful read of the Gospels demonstrates that this surrendering of power became a theme for Jesus. From Philippians 2, here’s how the apostle Paul captured Jesus’ habitual surrender of power:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
This Christmas, I want to celebrate the God who surrendered power in becoming flesh. According to Paul, for Jesus power was not something to used for his own advantage. Instead, it was about humility and servanthood, most eloquently expressed in his obedience to death, and a messy death at that.
Truly, from beginning to end:
Jesus used his power to bless others.
Because of this, when Jesus invites us to surrender our male privilege, he’s inviting us into his story. He’s inviting us to use power his way and not the world’s. Seen this way, then, it’s an act of discipleship, as surrendering male privilege is one way to emulate Jesus’ surrender of his divine privilege.
Jesus is Lord over my privilege. And he calls me to bless others, at home, at work, in the church, in the world. Join me this Christmas in rejoicing in a God who joyfully, willingly surrenders privilege, in the process empowering and blessing his people.
Merry Christmas everyone!
What about you? What is one way you can surrender power this Christmas season?