Every senior adult I know despises social media. They don’t like Twitter or Facebook. They refuse to use Instagram or learn how to Skype or FaceTime. They will point to teenagers and young adults who are lost in their phones and complain about what a waste of time it is to text your friends when you can just sit down and talk to them. They long for the old days when penmanship mattered, and nothing was better than receiving a well-written letter from an old friend.
Then, they have grandchildren.
And when that grandchild arrives, all of the sudden my senior adult friends who were once so hostile to the digital world now become social media ninjas.
The next thing I know, I’ve got videos of children in my email. Text messages are connected to websites, and any conversation can be quickly hijacked into an opportunity to pull out one’s phone and scroll through hundreds, now thousands of photos, chronicling every second of the grandchild’s life.
There’s nothing like them. No matter where you are or what else is going on, if someone walks in with a baby, everyone stops whatever they are doing, and they all come over to see the baby. Perfectly normal adults will goo goo and make all kinds of faces trying to make the child laugh or at least smile. Each adult will have to hold the child, and pictures will be taken of everyone holding the child and smiling. Everyone will be smiling.
Such is the power of a child.
Every Christmas I find myself taken aback by the stunning reality that God chose to come into the world as a baby. Who would do such a thing?
Honestly, if any of us were going to save the world, not one of us would have sent a baby. We’ve all been to the movies. We know what heroes and saviors look like. They’re tall and strong. They are smart and tough. They have a stare that intimidates and a war cry that melts their enemies’ hearts.
A hero needs a big stallion that stomps at the ground as he waves his flowing mane in the wind. Our hero will need armor and a magic sword along with a shield that makes him or her invisible when the enemy is too close. Our hero will win battles just by showing up. People will be too afraid to fight at all. No one would dare come too close to them.
And neither would I. I would be impressed. I would admire the strength and the skill of the hero, but I would be too intimidated to try to get close.
Perhaps if we toned it back a little bit and made our hero a little older and a little more approachable. Maybe our hero could be a little more like Gandalf in the Tolkien stories. The great thing about Gandalf was he was kind and gentle like everyone’s grandfather.
But he was also wise and burdened by all he knew about the world and its ways. He wouldn’t have time for me. He wouldn’t have time to talk to me about the mundane things of my life and listen to the shallow issues I bring up in my wandering prayers.
I would never get close to Gandalf.
Now, a baby would be another thing. I would get close to a baby like the shepherds who gathered around the manger did on that first night. Sure, I might be a little clumsy holding the child, and I might get caught making some goofy faces at the child, but I would get as close as I possibly could.
Babies do that to people.
This was a common theme in the ministry of Jesus. People would walk up and start talking to Him. Anybody would walk up to Him. Moms and dads would bring their babies for Jesus to bless. Sick people would press as close to Him as they could. They would shout His name and knock on His door at night. It seems whenever the whim hit them, people would get up and go find Jesus.
They weren’t afraid. They would always come close.
That’s why I think God chose to come as a baby. He knew there was something about babies that would always draw us in close. Whatever was going on in our lives—no matter how busy or how messed up our lives might be—if there was a baby nearby, we’d put down our troubles and walk over to see the baby…to hold the baby.
Easter and Christmas are very different moments. Easter is awe inspiring with Jesus appearing as the Risen Savior, Conqueror of death, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. We fall to our knees and worship. Death is no more. We’re free at last from the last chains of our fallen humanity.
Christmas isn’t like that. To be sure, there’s a lot of singing. At Christmas, everyone sings. The angels sing. Mary sings. Elizabeth sings. Zacharias sings. Everyone sings. But then, there’s the baby. Everyone wants to hold the baby. Everyone wants to come close to the baby.
That includes you. This Christmas, come close. Don’t be afraid. Don’t hold back. Come as close as you dare. Lean in. The Father really wants you to see the Baby.