A pastor I like to listen to (Gayle Erwin) tells a story about visiting the children’s ministry area in his church. When he first walked in, the kids didn’t pay any attention to him. Just another one of those giants running around the building. But then he got down on the floor, and they began to crawl all over him!
What made the difference? When he was standing up, the children couldn’t relate to him. But when he got down on the floor, he was a lot more like one of them. In that moment, Pastor Gayle had one of those inspirations that had to come directly from the Holy Spirit.
Didn’t God do the same thing with us? Leaving the glory of heaven, Jesus came to earth as a baby, complete with snotty nose and dirty diapers, fully dependent upon a mother and father for His care. He lived a human life with skin on and experienced pain, hunger and temptation. He laughed; He cried; He made friends and enemies; He participated in common, everyday events. For thirty years (as far as we know), He did no healings or miracles or transfigurations – just lived an ordinary, human life.
Jesus was exercising one of the four principles of building relationships: Commonality (the other three are Consideration, Consistency and Communication – more on those another time). Commonality builds bridges between people based on what they have in common, and it increases trust, because people like people who are like them. Turns out, that’s how we like our gods, too.
For all of time, mankind has tried to make his gods more like himself (think of the Greek gods or Vishnu’s ten avatars). Many stories have been told and written about gods who act like men in their quarreling, selfishness and philandering. I suspect those stories were created and passed along to help people understand an invisible god(s) and to relate to him (her/them/it) more. If we can just make god more like us…a little more sinful, maybe…then we can understand him. Then we can trust him.
But in Jesus, we have a God who made Himself more like us without taking on our sinful nature. He created Commonality by becoming one of us. If effect, He got down on the floor with us so that we could see Him at eye level. He got our attention by meeting us where we were at, and then He encouraged us to follow Him to a higher level. And the Bible tells us that He experienced every kind of temptation that we experience. That’s Commonality. It’s a lot easier to trust what someone says when you know that he has been where you’re at.
This Christmas season, let’s all take some time to think about what an awesome God we have. Getting down on our level was an incredible act of humility…and an incredible act of love. It showed God’s wisdom and just how well He knows our hearts. It testified that He was (and is) willing to go to incredible lengths to earn our trust.
And if you’re feeling brave, pay a visit to the three-year-olds in children’s ministry this weekend. A few minutes on the floor with them might give you a whole new perspective on what Christmas is all about.