“We enjoy seeing quaint manger scenes, but Stuart Townend is far more right when he sings, “From the squalor of a borrowed stable, by the Spirit and the virgins faith, to the anguish and shame of scandal, came the Savior to the human race!” Such a vision of Jesus’ earthy beauty readjusts our understanding of beauty, and may in fact serve as the starting point for rightly discerning where glamor ends and beauty begins.”
(David Schrock, Beholding the Beauty of Christ at Wal-Mart)
Christmas is coming. A time of the year mixed with giving and receiving, generosity and coveting. Setting aside for the moment the greed displayed by some during the season, the holiday season has an ability to bring out charity. For the Christian, the generosity, hopefully displayed throughout the year, comes out of the recognition of how God gave us the greatest gift of all through His Son, Jesus.
In his article Beholding the Beauty of Christ at Wal-Mart, David Schrock helps to recalibrate our thoughts of beauty and giving in the midst of an environment of glittering lights and shiny new toys:
God’s beauty looks different than we might expect. While angels sung of his arrival, God again reached out to the dirty and despised. He invited shepherds to be the only visitors permitted to the labor and delivery unit. In time, men of stature and renown would come to worship, but even their fullness of joy demonstrated a poverty of spirit. For how else could these wise men bringing great riches bow the knee to a child who had not yet been potty-trained? They did not come in power and prestige, but in pursuit of the veiled beauty of the Christ child.
The beauty and glory of Jesus’ birth is seen in contrast Caesar Augustus. In the headlines he was counting heads to prove his power. Meanwhile, the God who knows the number of hairs on every head (without counting), was sending his Son into the world. The contrast could not be more stark: Men counted matches in the dark, unable to benefit from their potential light, while the God of infinite light hid himself in the dark flesh of Jewish boy, one who came into the darkness to show his light to world.
Such a story shocks us, who lust for man-made beauty. Walk the aisles of Wal-Mart this Christmas season and look around you. Retailers want you to be impressed with the glittery lights, new toys, and improved electronics. But keep looking. In front of you, behind you, next to you, bumping into you are men and women made in the image of God who—lets face it—may not look all that glorious. But don’t stop there. Go to the restroom mirror, and you will find someone whose glory, whether dawning or waning, is ultimately fading. Every human bears the potential for radiant light. We are matchsticks, but apart from Christ, there is no spark.
While we may be caught up in the spirit of giving this season, let us not forget about the greatest Gift ever given to humanity. Let us not forget to share this marvelous gift of Christ with others. Let us not forget to pray that we could see some more “sparks” this season resulting in hearts lit afire for Jesus with a glow that will never dim because the source of the flame is the very Light of God. Rather than looking abroad and waiting for the next mission trip to share the light of the gospel of Christ, let us start where we are this season – with our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.