23 December 2013

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

There’s a recurring theme I have observed from too many Christians:  their God is too small, and their devil is too big.  They seem to believe we’re engaged in some type of cosmic celestial battle between two equal powers: the power of good and the power of evil.  Where do we get such ideas?  They certainly aren’t from the Bible!

The Bible clearly depicts the devil as a defeated foe.  His future is to be bruised beneath our feet as we discover that “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.”
If we were given the challenge to overcome the forces of evil, what weapon would we choose?  How would we defeat the devil?  The human response is always to look for the strongest thing available.  But not God’s; God chose to send a baby!  A baby!  How could a baby defeat the forces of hell?  Nothing seems more helpless than a baby, totally dependent upon His mother.  Not only was He dependent; He was born in a germ-infested barn.

Yes, I know, in our retellings, the stable always has clean hay and the animals are kept at a safe distance away from the baby, but Jesus was born in a dingy cave surrounded by stinking animals.  The dirt floor was encrusted with dung and urine.  It didn’t smell good, and it wasn’t clean!  I hope I’m not being too graphic in describing the stable in Bethlehem, but the truth is this wasn’t a hygienic place for a baby to be born.  There was no disinfectant to sterilize the manger before they could lay the baby down.  Why would God do such a thing and send His “only begotten Son” as a helpless baby into such a terrible situation?

I believe He was giving us a strong Christmas message: “Your devil is too big, and your God is too small.”  God wasn’t threatened by the devil.  It’s almost like heaven is rejoicing in the devil’s face.  He knew the devil had no power over Him.  He trusted a teen-age girl with her maternal instincts to take good care of the baby.  He wasn’t afraid that the baby would get sick and die; no, the baby would live to accomplish His purpose of overcoming the power of evil.  The life inside the baby was greater than the death in the cave.

The Bible tells us we should “overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)  The greatest force in the world is love.  No, not some warm fuzzy emotion that makes us feel good.  This type of love is described as “tough love.”  It’s the kind of love which isn’t afraid to get its hand dirty.  It’s the kind of love which invades darkness and conquers because of its fearlessness.  It’s the kind of love which can look the devil in the eye and not blink.  It can invade a germ-infested cave filled with dirty animals and conquer death, hell, and the grave.

I believe one of the greatest messages of Christmas is “your God is bigger than the devil.”  Why are we afraid of the big bad wolf?  Jesus has already conquered both hell and the grave.  Jesus is Lord!  We need to come as the magi did two thousand years ago and bow at the feet of the little child.  We need to bring our most precious gifts and lay them at His feet, because the baby has won.  He has defeated the devil.  We don’t have to be afraid of the darkness because the light of God’s truth has shown in the face of the Christ-child.  The angels have sang and we can rejoice because “greater is He who is in us, than He who is in the world.”

Merry Christmas!