I hate wasps.
Fast, flying, and stinging.
I saw a dead one on my porch the other day.
I liked that.
But then a thought occurred to me…some people are a lot like wasps. I don’t mean rich, old white guys. I mean people who are annoying and who sting me. These are the people my life is better without.
The the interesting thing about wasps, though, is that they actually do a lot of good. Despite their pestering me, they do good things, like eating spiders, and naturally preserving the yeast necessary to make bread and beer, and they also keep other highly prolific pests in check.
People, though, are different. Unlike wasps, peoples’ value don’t come from what they create (or destroy), but from Who created them.
And that is the paradox of the Gospel: We’re not good enough on our own–and the only One who is good enough, strangely, went and sacrificed Himself for us. I cannot think of a stranger or more powerful concept than this.
So here we are, right on the edge of Christmas, the biggest, commercialized time of the year. And I hear songs about “Emmanuel” and “our Savior’s birth” on the radio.
And then I wonder…is any of this getting through? Half of the Christmas songs on the radio are about God. But is any of that clicking with the millions and millions of people who hear it? Do manger scenes and Christmas Eve services actually get the Gospel message through to the masses of Americans?
But our world doesn’t seem to be changing much. Not for the better, anyway. I’m not a doomsday-er. Just an observer.
And, yet, I do want to make a positive difference. Right now, I’m stuck on dead wasps. What can I learn from dead wasps?
I think the lesson is simple: we don’t look at people for what they provide to us or to our economy. Even the vile ones. Instead, we look at them as creations of the One who’s never made a mistake. The homeless guy (who’s probably a fake-homeless guy). The greedy exec who sacrifices family (and morals) for more dollars. Or the guy who drives in his car and only gets in a tizzy over his own problems (me).
How can any of these people learn to be more like Jesus? That is, after all, the point of Christmas.
I think it starts very simply: we focus less on the who, and more on the Who behind the who.
Think about the very next person you see. Why did God create them that way? And that mess they’re making of their life (and yours, too), why does God still desire them?
I think understanding this is the fuel behind our mangers and church services. When we internalize this notion, we give the world what they don’t have–what they’re actually hunting for.
And I think, for us, this is what Christmas is about.
Commercialism gets a bad rep, but it isn’t bad. It’s just a distraction from what’s real.
And it’s the real stuff that finally makes it through.