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Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby Power

In one of the most beloved stories of the Christian faith, God chooses to break into human history as a powerless infant rather than an omnipotent monarch.

     Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary professor Ted Koontz, in a piece entitled, “Why did God come to us as a baby?” makes the point that while we see newborns as helpless and weak, a baby in fact has significant power. For example, a baby can wake parents in the middle of the night from a deep sleep, a power many louder noises don’t have, and has the power to get them out of bed and respond to their needs when they would be willing to get up for few other reasons.

     Yet, he says, this cry of a baby represents a power to which we can respond or choose not to. It can profoundly move us, but at the same time it in no way forces us to do anything or robs us of our freedom. Some people might in fact be able to sleep on, oblivious to a baby’s cry. But there is something in our very natures that makes us want to respond. To refuse to do so would be to refuse to be who we know ourselves to be down deep.

     So, he says, is the divine call that comes to us in the form of “baby power,” a way God chooses to move us that can be absolutely compelling and yet absolutely non-coercive. It makes clear that God prefers the soft power of persuasion and transformation over than the hard power of violence and dominance.

     In response, millions have acknowledged the Holy Child as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” as one who rules from a lowly manger and a martyr's cross rather than from a royal throne.

     A strange but compelling power indeed.
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