Christ before the Manger December 5, 2012 – Posted in: Love
Some people see the life of Christ as “from the manger to the cross.”
Much like Star Wars, the popular and even cinematic depictions of the story of Christ does not actually start at the beginning – or one could say there is a story “before the beginning.”
So, since we are in that time before Christmas – here’s a devotional on Christ before the manger.
Most Christians would agree with the fact that Christ existed before the manger, and that He exists after the cross, even and especially to this day, as He has risen. But, the details on how Christ existed before and after these events are much more hazy. The common answer pretty much amounts to “Christ was/is with the Father in heaven.”
This is true, but the Bible does tell us a bit more…and what’s left out can help complete a more full picture of Christ, which we all desperately need. In John 17, Christ states that He was a recipient of the Father’s Love and Glory before the foundation of the world. In Col. 1 we get re-statements with different detail, that Christ, before the beginning of the earthly and heavenly realms, was “the image of the invisible God…having all God’s fullness dwell in Him.” Theologians, usually commenting on the mysterious nature of the Trinity, have concluded that Christ was the chief recipient and reciprocator of All of who the Father is, and that this happens by the Holy Spirit.
So, let’s take these headier conceptual statements above and attempt to get a glimpse of Christ before creation. (Be ready for your mind to be at least partially blown). After this, we’ll mention why it matters .
Try to imagine a time where nothing is created. Don’t imagine God alone in space or in the universe, because that’s not quite accurate. And technically, we are imagining a “time” before time itself was created and contained in Christ, as is all of His creation. So try to imagine a place that is not a place, and time that is not a time – basically imagine that God is All in All. Imagine God triune, for He is, but what are the three persons of the one true God doing? Well, we know that God is Love. So imagine the Trinity loving each other. What does that Love look like? We know that love is giving of one’s self and that “there is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends,” right? So, imagine an altar of the heart in which the Father lays it all down. He gives of Himself completely as a true lover. All His Love and all His glory, all the perfections of His character, He gives…He gives freely and perfectly…expecting nothing in return, for He is complete and utterly without need. Who is worthy to receive such perfection, such glory, such Love ? Who is worthy to actually comprehend it, not de-value it, and fully appreciate as it deserves to be known ? Christ before the manger – that’s who. Yet deeper into the mystery, we see that Christ does not tarnish the glory, nor keep it all for Himself, although as God’s Son everything that the Father has is rightfully His. Christ perfectly pours forth back to the Father His own perfection, that which alone can satisfy a perfect God, all the love and glory. Christ in effect is loving His neighbor as Himself. And so on that altar, before creation, the lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. This all is happening by the Holy Spirit, eternally, in the life of the Triune God who is Love. Technically, if you are a Christian, you are in Christ and Christ is in you. This means that this is always happening within your heart and out on the perimeter of your world. This sacred dance of Love, which hinges on Christ before the manger, is at the core of who you are, and envelopes the created world like a biodome. This Love, that is Christ before the manger, is part of Him – He who is your center and circumference of everything.
So, Christ is bigger and richer than we thought. Well, asides from some pretty good fodder for worship, what does this have to do with practical things? For one, many Christians throughout history have become more intentionally conscious of the love life of the trinity in their own hearts and out beyond the heavenlies. This adds a new dimension to our daily living, our worship, prayer life and quiet times. Secondly, Christ before the manger personifies our calling, as well as the endgame of the mission of God. We the church, are to be a loving fellowship in community, in which we pour out ourselves unto others and by doing so…we pour ourselves out unto God, glorifying Him. We pour out that which has filled us, the knowledge of the love and glory of God, as seen in the face (person) of Jesus Christ. This reciprocating of the Love of God in/as Christ, is both the means and the goal of our mission on earth. In Ephesians, we learn that in Christ, we were called and preordained, before the foundation of the world, to have a share in this love and its blessings to the praise of His Glory and grace. And thus, we end back in John 17 where Jesus is praying that this would come to pass.
This is a mere part of the story of Christ, a Christ much larger than a little Galilean man who is now like a ghost figure or something… Christ, now, is resurrected, glorified, and incorporated into His people. He is a multi-membered Chirst, as well as a distinct person, self-maintained, as the fulcrum and container of the Trinity – this has been a glimpse of a part of this Christ, as He was before the manger.
Post script: You are not really meant to comprehend this vast Christ, alone all by yourself. The communal nature of God is such that He reveals in and through communal relationships centered on His Son. Consider taking what you see here and sharing with a few brothers or sisters in the Lord, so that together your vision and dreaming of God’s reality in Christ together, may greatly increase.