Friday, December 21, 2007

The loneliest man who ever lived

I've done my Christmas preparations this week knowing that a friend of mine will barely make it through the loneliness of the holiday season. Like many people I know, he hasn't yet come out to his family or church, and he wonders if he'll ever know what it's like to be truly loved. One reason I'm apprehensive about Christmas every year is that I know it causes some people reflect on their personal sadness more than usual. Whenever I sense that sadness, it's hard not to be affected too.

Back when The DaVinci Code was all the rage, it was vogue to speculate that, contrary to the church's teaching, Jesus actually got married to Mary Magdalene and had a child. Jesus was actually a family man! My position has been that if people want to believe that, go ahead. It takes nothing away from my faith. Yet to me, the traditional and biblical teaching that Jesus dwelt among us as the loneliest and most sorrowful man who ever lived on earth rings much closer to the truth.

The Jesus I know came not to find joy or comfort for himself, but rather made himself poor for our sakes that we might become rich. As a single man, rejected by his hometown and misunderstood by his parents and siblings, he befriended the despised and forsaken and marginalized. The lonely. He identified with them by becoming despised and forsaken and marginalized himself. Then he told them the secrets of the kingdom of heaven and they believed, because they were wise enough not to put their hopes in the fickle promises of earthly life.

The notion of Jesus as a Family Man only makes him into another one of those people who makes people without families feel left out, especially during Christmas time. Fortunately, as a Bible-believing traditionalist, I don't have to buy into that. I believe Christmas is, ironically, a time to remember the birth of the loneliest man who walked the earth, who is most present and most at home among those whose hearts are broken.