I believe the answer is simple. We do this because we live compartmentalized lives. We have separate boxes for all the areas of our lives. “This is my box for work, my box for home, friends, hobbies, church, etc. We can move in and out of our boxes without any thought as to whether they are congruent. There doesn’t need to be consistency from one sphere of life to another. In fact, one box doesn’t even have to effect another. We keep our lives divided up, nice and neat. Much like the apps on a smart phone. We’ll just open one when we need it and close it when we don’t. To go one step further, we’ll take what we like of one compartment, and leave what we don’t like.
We do that with Jesus. We take Him out of the box for December, but as soon as January comes around – back in the box He goes. What happens in December stays in December.
Reminds me of NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby when he says, “I like the baby Jesus. You can pray to the bearded Jesus or the teenage Jesus if you want. But I prefer the baby Jesus.” Our culture prefers the baby Jesus. We bring Him out once a year and place Him in the manger. The baby Jesus is a good reminder that we need peace on earth and good will toward men. We light a few candles, sing some familiar hymns, and then we put Jesus back in the box so we can get on with our lives. We’ve visited our Jesus compartment for the year, now we can put Him away. Yep, Away In A Manager: the little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes. And we like it that way.
The culture likes Jesus that way because the baby Jesus does not require anything from us except a few oohs and awhhs and perhaps 60 minutes in a crowded church service on Christmas Eve.
The prophet Isaiah is one of the first to see who the Messiah is and he doesn’t compartmentalize Him. In 9:6-7 he writes, For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
We like to hear that a child is born and a son is given. And we love the names that He will be called. They have a nice ring to them. Especially when Handel sets them to music. This is the Jesus we celebrate.
But what’s this stuff about the government being on His shoulders? Isn’t mentioning Jesus and government in the same sentence a violation of the constitution? What’s the deal about His government increasing without end? He is going to rule and establish justice and righteousness forever. That sounds oppressive.
Isaiah is letting us know there is no compartment box that is left untouched by Jesus. No part of your life, my life, all of life that Jesus will not order and establish. His rule and reign will continue to increase and spread. He is King over the whole world. Everything will be under His government and peace. Jesus will order and establish judgment and justice in this world forever, without end. God is zealous to make it so.
But the world and individuals in it are not so zealous. We want His peace to increase without end, but not His government. The problem with that is it’s a package deal. The peace is a result of His government. But the world does not want Jesus in charge. A baby Jesus, no problem. It’s very Hallmark. Wrap it up, put a bow on it, we’ll take it. But a King increasing his reign without end, I’m sorry but that’s not going to work for us. We like being in charge.
Have you ever had this thought: “I don’t want Jesus to be in charge of all my compartments. He can have a few, but not all. This is my kingdom, not His. If I take Jesus out of the box and allow His government to increase with no end in my life, I will have to live differently. I will have to surrender control. He wants to be King over all of me without end? That’s asking too much.” And so, back in the box Jesus goes.
However, there are big problems with putting Jesus away with the Christmas decorations. What do you think some might be?