How can you not love a baby? They’re so innocent. So cuddly. So cute. I have no idea what the baby Jesus looked like; however, I bet he was easy to love.
But then he grew up. And he wasn’t nearly as lovable. At least to some people. Indeed, to them, he was principally a threat. And the way powerful people handle threats is you deal with them.
I suppose, then, the ultimate question about this baby is, Was he someone to love or fear?
We can’t have it both ways, although we try. But, really, we can’t. We can’t truly love someone we fear.
So, was he someone to love or fear? That’s the great Christmas question in my mind.
But, to be fair, I suppose there’s another option. We can simply ignore him. We can truly ignore him, or ignore him while pretending we’re not (by claiming we love him while marginalizing him).
It seems that’s where we are in my country today. Not everyone. But most of us.
If there was ever any doubt (and, to some of us, there wasn’t), it was answered by our decision to make Donald Trump our president.
Donald Trump is the antithesis of Jesus. They have nothing in common. I’ve read articles by people around the world wondering how American Christians can embrace Mr. Trump. I find such articles amusing, for, after all,the answer is as plain as the nose on his face.
American Christians can support Mr. Trump because most of them love other things more than Jesus. Which is fine. That’s not only their right, but it’s also quite understandable. What’s not fine, however, is trying to cast Mr. Trump as someone he isn’t. By doing that, all the Christians are doing (most notably the evangelical community and the so-called religious right) is undermining their own credibility (assuming they have any left).
Some of Mr. Trump’s die-hard Christian supporters try to justify their allegiance by conceding Mr. Trump is an “imperfect vessel” (their words, not mine). They also remind us, using a well worn cliché that is always employed in a highly selective, partisan manner, that “no one is perfect.”
But of course, no one is talking about perfection. What we have here is the antithesis of all the values and principles that underpinned the teachings and life of the one born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.
Mr. Trump himself is constantly reminding us how great and successful he is, and that he’s one of the winners. He points to his great wealth as proof. He also constantly reminds us he has no time for those whom he refers to as losers. He ridicules them. Defames them. Pokes fun at them. Holds them in utter contempt.
Can there be any doubt Mr. Trump would consider someone like Jesus to be a loser? I think not. Of course, Mr. Trump won’t admit it, because he’s smart enough to know it could cost him votes.
So American elects Donald Trump to be its leader and still celebrates the baby’s birth. Go figure.
Why do we do it? I suppose it’s because it makes us feel good. Why not try to have it both ways. Moreover, how can you not love a baby?
But the baby Jesus was like every other boy born that day who managed to survive childhood diseases: he grew up to be a man. Not just any man. But a man who saw the world differently than most. A man who thought the poor were blessed. Who thought love was more important than possessions. Who rejected the way of power and domination. Who thought the manner we treated and cared for each other mattered.
Jesus the man said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
It’s so much easier to love the baby than the man.