This summer, during worship at church, the worship leader said something about the Lord being precious and laying our lives down before him. In that moment, my mind drifted to Bethlehem and saw Jesus as a baby with the three kings bringing him the gifts (Matthew 2:1-12), and I thought, “What would I do if I were actually able to go back to the day of Jesus’ birth? “
Knowing what I know now, that Jesus loves me and that he was destined to die for me, I think that gold, frankincense and myrrh seem like silly gifts for Baby Jesus. I mean, what is a baby going to do with that stuff? And what is the savior of the Universe going to do with that stuff? He could turn the straw that surrounded him in the manger into frankincense if he really wanted some frankincense. His parents probably sold all this stuff for money to support them while running from Herod, but they knew that God would provide no matter what.
The thing that Baby Jesus would want the most from me would be my love. He would want me to hold him. He would want me to just spend time with him. If he had a need, I would meet that need in any way possible, but that wouldn’t be his priority for me in that tender moment if I could walk into that stable when Jesus was a newborn.
We Are God’s Babies
During this time of worship, several months ago, the concept of holding Baby Jesus and what my heart would feel in that moment, God revealed a greater depth of his love for me. You see, we are his babies. He loves us and cares for us. Unfortunately, because of the baggage that so many of us carry around, being tender and intimate with God of the Universe is hard for some of us to enter into.
Men can have an especially hard time with the idea of being intimate with Jesus. We develop a homophobic squirm at the idea of kissing Jesus or just resting in his comforting arms. That discomfort at these ideas is not God’s best for our hearts! So, in your mind’s eye, imagine yourself walking into the stable in Bethlehem and coming upon a baby lying in a manger. He is helpless and all-powerful in one swaddling bundle. His only worldly desire is to be held in warm and caring arms. Would you pick him up?
You know that this child will someday die a terrible death on a cross, not because he did anything wrong, but for your sins. His resurrection three days later ensured that he gets to spend eternity with you, and he did all of this centuries before you were born.
In this time alone, with just you and this royal infant, how would you feel? What would you do? I’ll tell you what I would do. I would touch my forehead to his. I would caress his cheek with my fingers. I would kiss his tiny lips. I would sing to him, and all the while, tears would be streaming down my own cheeks. I would talk to him and spend as much time with him as I possibly could, and I wouldn’t feel weird about it.
So, what has changed between that time and now? Nothing has changed. Jesus, was the same in the beginning and will be the same eons from now; desiring intimacy with us. He longs for us to lay bare our hearts to him so that he can caress our faces, kiss us and hold us tightly. We are his babies.
My father-in-law is probably the toughest man that I know, and he pointed out that the reason so many guys have a hard time with the concept of being intimate with Jesus is because society has equated intimacy with sex. The two are not identical. We’re not talking about a sexual relationship with Jesus. We ARE talking about a love relationship with Jesus.
Do You Love God?
God loves us (John 3:16). We all know that, even if it’s only a cerebral understanding and not a heart-felt sentiment. Now, I’m going to ask you to do something that might be a little scary: ask yourself, ‘Do I love God?’ Be honest with yourself.
If the answer is, ‘No,’ don’t despair. I have been right where you are. Years ago, I came to the realization that I didn’t actually love God, and I felt like the world stopped spinning and turned completely upside down in a single moment.
“How can you say that!?” you ask? “How can you not love God?” Well, it was the truth. I had been raised in a Christian home and had gone to Sunday school ever since I can remember, but it wasn’t personal. I had no true relationship with Jesus. It was like I was marching in an army, wearing the uniform, but at the first sign of the enemy, I would turn tail and abandon the cause that everyone else around me was fighting for. I knew that God supposedly loved me, but on that afternoon at a Christian music festival, I panicked when I realized that I didn’t love God back.
Please know that if you don’t think that you love God, at least you’re being real with yourself now. Now, be real with God. Pray and tell him how you feel. God’s a big guy. He can take it. Tell him all about how you feel and then…be silent and listen. You’ll probably hear something along the lines of “I love you anyway,” and then ask him to tell you more. Ask him to reveal his love to you like he has never done before.
Why didn’t he reveal this to you before? Because you had everything under control: your control, including your relationship with God. We so frequently walk around acting like little gods of our own little universes. We schedule things and compartmentalize things and indirectly, we end up telling God that there’s no room for him in our lives. We never allow ourselves to be helpless.
But there he is, lying in the manger, totally helpless, and destined for brutalization and execution. All he needs or desires in this moment is your affection. Close your eyes and spend some time with Jesus, picturing him as a baby. Sing him a lullaby. Tell him how precious he is; how beautiful he is. Do you know what you’re doing? You’re worshiping Jesus!
You may need to go back to this moment from time to time to remember what it’s like to be tender with Jesus, but ultimately, God will reveal to you that he feels the same way about you: you right now, not just when you were an infant. We are God’s babies. He loves us like crazy and wants to have an intimate, tender relationship with us.
Jesus longs for you to curl up in his lap and tell him where it hurts. He wants to kiss your physical and emotional boo-boos and make it all better. He wants to sing to you and release peace into your heart (john 14:27). Don’t let the world’s hang-ups or a broken relationship with your earthly father get in the way of a love relationship with Jesus. An intimate walk with Jesus is truly an abundant life.