*Christmas controversies have become as seasonal as candy canes and eggnog. A few years ago, there was a big flap over Wal-Mart forbidding its employees to wish customers “Merry Christmas.” That reveals how absurd the battles have become.

Christian legal societies stay busy each holiday season, holding the line. But in focusing on the public battles, we may miss a less visible danger in our own ranks.

What image does the mention of Christmas typically conjure up? For most of us, it’s a babe lying in a manger while Mary and Joseph, angels and assorted beasts, look on. It’s a heartwarming picture—Jesus in swaddling clothes. But Christmas is about much more than a child’s birth—even the Savior’s birth. It is about the Incarnation: God himself, Creator of heaven and earth, the ultimate reality, becoming flesh.

This is a staggering thought. The Jews believed the Messiah would arrive as a king on a stallion with a flashing sword. But God, who delights in confounding worldly wisdom, dealt with Satan’s cruel reign with a quiet invasion of planet Earth. Instead of sending a mighty army, he chose an unknown, teenage virgin.

Thirty years after his humble birth, Jesus increased the Jews’ befuddlement when he told his followers, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15).

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