Over the last three days I've devoured The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyles?, by Mike Erre (which you can pick up for the great price of $4.49 through Amazon).
Erre starts with what was to me an eye-opening overview of the happenings in the Roman world at the time prior to the birth of Christ and throughout his lifetime. He contrasts the titles claimed by Augustus Caesar, including Cosmic Savior and bringer of peace, with the Messiah who truly embodied them, and describes the history behind Herod's extremely paranoid behavior. Jesus was a radical. From his birth to his death he turned everything the Roman world and the Jewish religious establishment saw as good and right on its head and forced people to choose which king they would serve.
The birth of Christ was a humiliating experience: the vastness and greatness of the King of Kings crammed into a helpless baby, born of a sinful woman, and placed in a feeding trough. There is a reason Paul says that Jesus, "Made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." And yet this humble birth was a fitting beginning to the start of his revolution, a revolution not waged with political power, weapons and skillful strategies, but with love, grace, and sacrifice.
Yet this is not the Jesus I've been following. Erre's question hit way too close to home:
So this Christmas season I am rethinking the quaintness of the sweet baby in the manger. It's all just too tame, and there is nothing tame about Jesus. Daily he forces me to choose. I can't have Jesus and any other god, not my stuff, or my family, or my so-called dreams. And when I choose he requires me to trust him and join the revolution.
"Jesus Christ is the most subversive man ever to have walked the earth. This is revolution."