It has often been observed that our culture worships the “cult of celebrity.” The idea is that there are certain people we look up to, want to know about, want to be like, and want to meet. Whether that is because of certain abilities they display (sporting stars), or attributes they have (good looking actors), simple due to their visibility (Kim Kardashian) or even because of their family connections (Kate Middleton), the idea that would could in some way “get to know” these people drives a multi-billion dollar gossip magazine industry and results in large crowds gathering wherever these people go.
There’s an awful lot that could be said about that from a cultural-analysis perspective, and there’s a lot to dislike about it, but the reason I’m thinking about this today is entirely different. I’ve been listening to some of my favourite Christmas carols and wondering how these two thoughts connect.
The cult of celebrity seems to suggest to me that there is something deep within us as human beings that wants to connect with those whom we look up to or admire. That somehow we feel like getting “close” to them elevates us in some way. A famous person who takes time to hang out with a sick child in hospital is universally admired. Throughout history there has been prestige ascribed to having any kind of connection with royalty. Associating with those who have status and value seems to bring a kind of status and value of its own. Perhaps it overcomes our insecurities: if they like us, well then, we really must be likeable and everyone else will know so.
Imagine if a really famous person joined one of the groups or clubs you belong to. Suddenly your whole group would be elevated by their presence. Your status and value would somehow go up.
What on earth does all this have to do with Christmas?
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see Hail the incarnate deity Pleased as man with men to dwell Jesus our Immanuel
The incarnation of God as a human being elevates all of us. It brings us status and value.
At Christmas, we celebrate the miracle of God choosing to become a human being. The creator of the universe chose to become part of His creation. And not just any part but our part. God became one of us. The Godhead for all eternity now includes a human being. The ruler of all things is now a member of our group.
That is a truly incredible, astonishing, surprising, mind-blowing, shocking thing to believe.
And it changes everything.
It tells us that God loves us. Immensely. Enough to become one of us.
It tells us that we are loveable. There is no need for insecurity. The One of ultimate worth has found us worthwhile.
But even more than that, it calls us to love one another because every single other person we share this planet with is not only created in the image of God, but is a being whom God has chosen to become like.
One of the implications of the incarnation is that God becoming human elevates us all. The refugee and the billionaire, the inmate and the Kardashian, the lost child and the superstar … each and every one is one whom Jesus chose to become like.
Now that’s a cause for celebration.
And a call to compassion.
And a challenge to contemplate.