I can’t count how many times I’ve begged God for Rescue in my small life. Chronic pain keeps kicking me. Infertility taunted me. Kids test me. I say and do so many things I regret. And even when I’ve done everything right, I sometimes get lost or mistreated anyway. I can’t fix any of it on my own. I call out for “Help!” and I want a Rescuer to come running.
When I call out to God for “Help!” I’m usually wanting Magic. I want the people I’ve hurt to get acute amnesia about our last conversation. I want the drunk driver to swerve a different direction and miss my car. I want my kids to be 100% compliant.
Other times when I want God to “Help!” I’m asking for Power. I want to be Right and influence others to agree and act. I want to Perfect and avoid all mistakes. I want pain and suffering to end for me and everyone else.
I want “Help!” right in the moment. I want a concierge and team of experts at my beck and call. I want the Master of the Universe to use his full arsenal to help me. And he does. By sending a Baby.
That is definitely not what I’m looking for.
The people of Israel, the Jews, were were downcast, prejudiced against, and mistreated in a culture that despised them for centuries. Battling, pillaging, enslaving, raping, taxing. They prayed for Rescue, for their Messiah to come, a conquerer to vanquish their oppressors and elevate them to their proper role as God’s Chosen People. The Savior they asked for would look like King David, or someone from the movie 300.
But instead of a king leading a crushing military take over, God sent a helpless baby to a poor engaged couple. After fleeing violence as a refugee, he grew up going to temple, learning to be a carpenter, and making useful things in his family’s shop. Kind of just a regular guy. Then he became a religious radical, cultural agitator, miraculous healer, and stadium preacher. His own family thought he was crazy. In the end, he was tortured and executed. But then he walked out of his tomb fully alive and turned the world upside down. No one asked for that.
We talk about God, Jesus, and Compassion a lot here at Fritz Headquarters. And sometimes we pray like Jesus is one of the Marvel superheroes. We call out for rescue, wanting to see him battle evil villains and save everyone. My kids righteously ask, “God, give all the babies mamas. No more orphans.” and “Stop ISIS right now, God.” and “Everyone should have clean water, God! Fix it.” I’ve never met a baby that could do any of that stuff.
When the Master of the Universe starts his rescue plan for all humanity by wearing a diaper, we know things are not going to be as grand as we hoped. When the King of Creation chooses to hide in the dark womb of a single mother, we get the hint that surprises are coming. God as a Baby is mysterious and disconcerting. It shows the kingdom of God is very, very slow in coming.
“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,
and my ways are different from yours.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
Jesus is The World Changer. His arrival, teaching, miracles, and literal resurrection from the dead change everything. He didn’t banish poverty, hunger, illness, and suffering, which is a stumbling block for so many of us. Instead he offered individual transformation to anyone who asked for it. He offered forgiveness of sins. He offered an upside down life where the poor are the real rich ones, and the last are actually first, and the least are secretly the greatest.
God didn’t come with thunderbolts, muscles, and guns blazing. I so often wish he did, because it would mean that my prayers should be answered instantly, my foes should be obliterated, and my life should be easy. Instead Jesus Christ, the Messiah and King of My Heart, came as a baby that needed protection. It’s kind of strange that the Rescuer allowed himself to be rescued. He humbled himself to need food, water, relationships, and love. This seems a bit off-brand to me.
But now I see it. It’s actually what makes the whole thing work. I can trust the tender love of Jesus because he understands. He understands physical pain: skinning his knees as a boy, hitting his thumb with a hammer, getting beat up, and even dying. He understands being misunderstood: people thought he was a liar and a bit crazy sometimes. He understands heartache: friends betrayed him when he needed them most. That is what I’m looking for when I call out for “Help!”
GOD, the biggest, best, holiest, most powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, infinite King of Everything, introduced himself to us a Baby. Can you imagine?
We are so deeply loved.
- A Birthday Party: ideas for celebrating Jesus on Christmas instead of our stuff
- Dangerous Christmas: what if Christianity isn’t about being safe all the time?
- He Already Did: answered prayers are different than we expect (featured on Perissos)
© Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015