The hustle and bustle of Christmas is nearly upon us, which means that it’s time for the annual onslaught of Christian voices decrying the tragic commercialization and secularization of the holidays. And while I suppose that these folks make some worthwhile points, I must confess that I usually remain unaffected by their rhetoric. It’s not because I’m apathetic about Christmas losing its meaning. It’s because I’ve come to realize that the greatest threat endangering me of not having a Christ-centered Christmas isn’t a Walmart Black Friday sale or the Starbucks baristas generically wishing me “Happy Holidays.” The greatest threat facing me this Christmas is my own short-sighted, forgetful, inwardly focused heart.
I’m naturally prone to marginalize the mysteries of the incarnation. I take for granted the glorious reality that God himself would take on flesh to bring his people into eternal fellowship with him. So whether it’s Christmas season or any other time of the year, my heart needs to be regularly kindled by fresh encounters with our incarnate Lord. I need to be routinely refueled by high-octane, gospel-saturated theology. I’m sure you can relate. If you don’t intentionally set your gaze on the wonders of Christ, you’ll overlook them altogether. The true Grinch lives within.
In her new book Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ, Elyse Fitzpatrick hits the nail on the head:
The incarnate God-man Jesus Christ is completely matchless, and his condescension to humanity’s earthiness, finitude, frailty, and sin should astonish us and provoke worship. But the sad truth is that we’ve become so very familiar with this story that we can hum carols during the Christmas season while we shop for trinkets and never once fall on our faces in awe.
Throughout the course of her book, Fitzpatrick helps us to do just that—to fall on our faces in awe—by offering up a delightfully refreshing meditation on the twin doctrines of Jesus’ incarnation and our union with him. But she doesn’t do it in a detached, dry, academically hollow manner. She does it with fervor and warmth and wonder. In fact, Fitzpatrick has the unique ability to present theologically deep truths in a doxologically soaring manner. To read this book is to worship.
Many of us are tempted to think that such theological reflections are impractical or irrelevant for our daily lives. But this assumption couldn’t be more distant from the truth. Fitzpatrick laments, “It’s a sad reality that many Christians spend their entire lives wandering around a spiritual wilderness, malnourished, thirsting, and consuming rubbish because they have never feasted on the soul-consoling, heart-transforming, zeal-engendering truth found in the study of the incarnation and union.” What's at stake here is nothing less than our spiritual health. Our souls are too often content with snacking on junk food when what we really need is a feast!
So while you’re buying your presents and hanging your multi-colored lights and planning your holiday travels, I would encourage you to grab this book and take a few moments to stop, reflect, and celebrate the magnificent mystery of Christ becoming like us so that we might be found in him.
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