Moment's Reflection

by Dr. Dan Jones on December 7, 2022
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born . . . .” -Matthew 2:1
As much as we try to keep politics out of it, politics is intricately woven into the fabric of the Christmas story. Jesus and Herod will be at political odds from the beginning when Herod insists that power is a precious commodity to be won and kept, while Jesus will grow to advocate serving, not being served.

Matthew says Jesus threatened Herod’s power. Herod’s murderous plot to quench his insecurity will serve a painful illustration that Jesus’ kingdom is governed by different rules. While Jesus will offer peace, Herod will double down on brass-knuckles attempts to keep the peace. Jesus will operate by a principle of expansion, Herod by reduction. Jesus will embrace others. Herod will kill others. Jesus will go outside the city limits to engage others. Herod will silence critics, and circle the wagons.

In some ways Herod makes the dilemma of choice too simple. Few will adore a king like Herod. He’ll cross the line and come clearly marked. The problem is it’s possible to practice Herod’s destructive methods of “peacemaking” (reduce, reject, coerce, demand respect, resign to insecurity) in the most seemingly benign, acceptable ways.

Doing Christmas “Jesus style” will require intention. And it’s not hard to understand. The difficulty will be in the practice of it. And while the practice may involve gift-giving, the best gifts will be those of the heart we choose to share with those around us. Such as:
  • Thinking kindly of the person who’s hurt you. Better yet, speaking kindly. Retribution pays poor dividends.
  • Inviting someone into your closed circle of fellowship. Exacting allegiance kills community.
  • Refraining from acting on angry impulses. The collateral damage that such anger produces is almost always more destructive than the perceived offense.
  • Considering a way to give grace, even if you feel in your heart it isn’t deserved. Grudge bearing shrinks the spirit over time.
The point is that the practice of Christmas “Jesus style” is a choice. It’s possible that you can go on straddling the ways of two kingdoms and nobody will notice. Otherwise good people have lived like this for years. But maybe this is the year to try something new. Instead of nursing old wounds, and telling dusty stories, maybe this is the year to come alive to the practices of God’s kingdom. It seems to me that is the only way that Jesus will be born to you. -Advent 2022

Click here to read the rest of the December 2022 Newsletter