Do condescending people bother you? It’s irritating, isn’t it? I don’t know anyone who enjoys being patronized or being treated like an inferior just so other people can feel good about themselves.
Here’s what makes a condescending attitude in people so irritating: People dismiss others and act like they’re so far above them because they think that they actually are above others. And while certain people fill positions of honor and authority and they deserve respect because of that, we also know that, at a base level, we’re all human beings. And we should treat each other like it. We might be on different levels to some degree, but at the end of the day, we’re all people. And no one’s that much greater than the next guy.
Well, we’ve been hearing a lot about Christmas lately. Here’s something that cute little manger scene forces us to ask at one point or another: Is God condescending?
Think about it. God actually is so far above us. And he’s not like a boss who’s above his employees; God is the Creator of the universe. He’s not just above us; he made us. We’re his creatures on this earth, and he lives in everlasting glory in heaven.
But he came down. He [con]descended. He left his throne in heaven to live on earth. Jesus is the Son of God who always was and always will be. But on Christmas he was born as a baby with a birthdate just like the rest of us. Jesus, as God, is spirit who has the power to create but never needed to be created. But he became one of his own creation. Jesus is holy and never experiences anything wrong or out of place in his life. But he came to live on this earth where he felt pain, was betrayed, suffered dearly, and died on a cross. He left his high position and came down to experience life at our level. In other words, Jesus is condescending.
When people are condescending, it’s irritating. Not so with God. With God, it’s wonderful. Here’s what makes God’s condescending actions so wonderful: God knows that he is above all human beings, yet rather than dismissing us, he lowered himself to our level and became one of us so that he can lift us up to his level. He didn’t do it to patronize us; he did it to save us from our sins. He didn’t do it to make himself feel good; he did it so that, in Christ, we can actually have something to feel good about. He didn’t do it to treat us like inferiors; he did it to treat us like equals. He’s still God, and we are still his creation, but he became our brother to adopt us into his family and to make us princes and princesses of heaven!
Look at that baby in the manger. God came down to us. Is that condescending? Wonderfully! That’s the only kind of condescending that’s also uplifting.
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4,5).
Kurt Wetzel celebrated Christmas in Boise, Idaho, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is a pastor at Cross of Christ Church.
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