The title is strange, I agree, but it does make sense. I hope it will by the end of this post.
The new Cathay Pacific planes have a cool reclining seat design that takes away the horror of the person in front leaning their seat back and crushing your head/laptop/food/personal space. Your seat still reclines to a more comfortable angle, but instead of actually leaning back, the seat slides forward. Here’s a diagram.
Now why would I bring this up in conjunction with Jesus? Rhetorical question – this is a roundabout connection. Sitting in one of these chairs on the flight home just reminded me of the principle of innovation: achieve the same purpose with a different method. The seat still reclines (purpose), but it does not lean back (method).
This is like when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” He is adapting, changing to fit his audience. This is important, but just as important is that he is not compromising where it matters. He does not mean by this that it’s ok to do or be anything that suits you. He also says ,”that by all means I might save some,” where salvation as ordained by God is the ultimate purpose. For that salvation, there are unchangeable criteria, including
- Being saved by Jesus. John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- Depending on The Bible. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
The method is flexible as long is it stays true to the purpose and the truth and commands that surround it. Revelations 2:25 says, “Only hold fast what you have until I come.” This business of holding fast is serious at other points in Scripture too. Holding fast means not compromising or abandoning the original.
Finally, what about my bringing Christmas into the mix? I realised today why I’m not big on Christmas music. I’ve lived in Hong Kong for too much of my life, and having bad pop versions of carols overplayed in every public & commercial place during December has ruined them for me a little. I will put up with the hype and make an effort to get excited though, because the yearly remembrance of Jesus humbling himself to become human flesh is too important, and the hype is worth the while.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14) and this happened, for the sake of God’s name.
So even though Christmas is full of irrelevant details like reindeer and elves and buffets and excessive shopping and bad pop renditions of carols and crowds and lineups etc., I will deem this hullabaloo worth the while because once a year, there is a chance to make a big deal about the faithfulness of God in planning for how we could spend eternity with him and then enabling the whole plan and making up for all the places we screw up at.
I just wish I made more of this season in a good way.