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Diaper Power

• Greg Boyd

The poverty of the manger exemplified the power of God. In this sermon, Greg shows that God really is like the baby swaddled in clothes in the manger. The kind of power that God exhibits is foolish to this world, but it shows the type of God that we can follow with all our heart.

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God operates the opposite way our common sense sees power. In the manger, God revealed his might. The might of a newborn child, meek and vulnerable, was not some kind of trick. God’s poverty shows his might. Even during the cross, he showed that the power of this world was not the power of God.

The Christmas story is a scandal and looks like a vast joke. The all-powerful God shouldn’t be coming down in the form of a weak, little baby. The ruler of the universe had to be fed and clothed by his human parents. This revelation is so radical that even theologians today have trouble coming to grips with it. They see the baby Jesus, but they can’t believe that God actually looks like him.

A lot of time is spent by these theologians trying to get around the radical implications of the Christmas story. Yes, the Gospel looks like God accomplishes his will through the baby Jesus, but we know that it is actually through sovereign control. Yes, the Gospel looks like God rules by appearing foolish and weak, but we know that God ordains everything. Yes, the Gospel shows Jesus sacrificing himself, but we know that God will gain power through this world.

This type of thinking continues to this day. It’s hard to trust the power of the baby Jesus when our children are killed in our schools. It’s hard to trust the power of an infant when the scary world is constantly threatening us. Our fallen hearts would prefer an almighty God with a sword rather than a humble God who gets crucified. If we are honest with ourselves, we see that our fear is what makes it difficult to trust God.

When we think about God through this lens of fear, we begin to compromise our following of Jesus. Jesus looks too radical to be true. The tragic truth is that this begets a Christianity that is full of admirers of Jesus but relatively few followers. So, at Christmas, most admire the baby in diapers but still follow the power-brokering god of this world. Even though Jesus calls us to follow in his footsteps, we follow in the footsteps of our common sense that follows the rules of this world. Our root problem is fear of living in a scary world and trusting in the baby Jesus.

God left heaven, put on diapers, and died on the cross for you. This is really what God is like. Not a control freak or a god who gets glory from evil. But a God is swaddling clothes destined for the cross. God will always be with us, for he is Immanuel. God wants to always be with us through our sin, suffering, and death. We are no longer alone in these things.

God revealed in the Christmas story that he won’t lose. He rules by love, usually unnoticed. But we shouldn’t be discouraged when we have trials in this world, because God is constantly at work in our lives. And even if this world takes our life, we know that this is not the end. The love unleashed by God in the manger promises us a future promise of the freedom of living with the God who gave up everything to be with us.

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Topics: Discipleship, Fear, Power


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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:23-25

    but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

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6 thoughts on “Diaper Power

    Tim G. says: Friday December 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Greg, I have heard you misquote Jerry Falwell a few times. I agree with your point here, but I think that maybe you are quoting what the media claimed the late Dr. Falwell said. He did feel that America turning from God (the Jude o-Christian way of life and it’s affect on our government and laws) led to many things but, I believe, he would say as a natural consequence of the “turning” including poverty, disease, war and natural disaster.
    If you walk off a cliff and defy the natural law called gravity, you will fall. If you break spiritual laws there are consequences also. Do you agree or disagree and why? It seems you think there are no consequences on earth for sin.

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    Tim G. says: Friday December 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Greg,
    You say you are not getting involved in the politics of it AFTER you just misquoted and made fun of the head of the NRA. This man didn’t bring God or religion into his reasoning. This man is not a part of any religious group. I get upset at most preachers because they can’t help but push their conservative agenda and the more I listen to you, the more obvious it becomes that you are a hopeless liberal and can’t help but express it in your sermons. ..

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    Tim G. says: Saturday December 29, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I don’t think Christians buying more and bigger guns is the answer to the evil injustices that happen in this country. (By the way, the head of the NRA didn’t say that either-he just believes citizens have a constitutional right to own a gun. He didn’t say it is a Christian duty or evoke God in any way). I just don’t think that banning guns is the answer either. Greg, if a man broke into your house and was taking one of your babies, would you not try to physically stop him out of fear and/or anger and a natural sense of justice? Would striking with your hands or any other object to stop him be better or worse than using a gun to protect your family? I’m not a crazy gun slinging vigilantly. I just think you are confusing and mixing an individual owning a gun for sport and/or protection with nationalism and the “God and country” attitude you speak so much about. That’s not fair. I think you are blind to how political your are sometimes. I depend on God to take care of me ultimately for all my needs but I do have to work, pay taxes, go to the doctor and such. I also will defend my family if self defense is required. I think that is, for lack of a better word, good stewardship with the family God blessed me with. Please show me where I’m going wrong here…

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    Holly says: Sunday December 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Thank you Greg. I heard your entire message and carry it in my heart. Thank you so much.

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    kevin says: Tuesday January 1, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I always ran from the bully and i never did stand up to him much less win a fight. even as a believer today i sort of long to pound one of them bullies like in your story. i firmly believe had i had that experience, my life would have taken a whole different turn and i would not have basically lived in fear most all my life. The boost of confidence that scenario gave you installed a chip and created a neural-net in your brain that i feel was extremely instrumental in your success.

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    Teresa says: Tuesday January 1, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Amen! Such a needed sermon for us in these times! @Tim G – Your example to Greg illustrates the foolishness of the cross perfectly. You said this: Greg, if a man broke into your house and was taking one of your babies, would you not try to physically stop him out of fear and/or anger and a natural sense of justice?

    Think about why you “naturally” go to physically stopping this person by force. You think it’s crazy/foolish for someone to do anything other than use some kind of force (hitting, shooting etc) to stop this scenario. That’s the exact point. The cross power is foolishness to the natural way of thinking! But what if there’s a more effective “cross response” you aren’t seeing because you are focused on what comes naturally? What if we are doing the dumber/weaker thing by shooting when God wants to use the event in a powerful way – to not only save the child, but maybe to convert the bad guy? What if you simply prayed and God stopped the incident by doing something miraculous? Or what if you did something loving toward the guy and he freaked out because you didnt go the natural route –maybe you would be such a strong witness in your trust in God that he would end up praying with you instead of harming your kid? There are accounts like these taking place all the time. The bottom line is guns dont work in the same power-filled way the cross does. When we resort to our natural instinct towards violence instead of seeking to enact the power of God, we sell ourselves short.

    Back to the sermon:

    Perfect love casts out fear indeed. But we have to develop a loving relationship in order to have that perfect love…since love is a relational thing. [Here’s the context of that verse (capital letters for emphasis/not yelling :)): God is love, and the one WHO ABIDES in love abides in God, and God abides in him. BY THIS, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.]

    I’m not sure we can simply say “because GOD is perfect love we dont need to fear him.” There’s more to it than that. When we read the verse in context we see that this “perfected love” isn’t cheap… The fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom has to be factored in there somewhere too. It would be nice to hear greg deal with the fear of the Lord being a GOOD thing…

    Here are some others of those verses:

    And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,

    “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who FEAR Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

    Job 28:28
    “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.’”

    Psalm 19:9
    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

    Psalm 25:14
    The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.

    Psalm 33:18
    Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

    Psalm 34:7
    The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.

    Psalm 34:11
    Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

    Psalm 36:1
    A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord. Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.

    Psalm 103:17
    But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children,

    Psalm 111:10
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

    Psalm 112:1
    Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.

    Psalm 128:1
    How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.

    Proverbs 1:7
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    Proverbs 1:29
    Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.

    Proverbs 2:5
    Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.

    Proverbs 8:13
    “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.

    Proverbs 9:10
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

    Proverbs 10:27
    The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.

    Proverbs 14:26
    In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.

    Proverbs 14:27
    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.

    Proverbs 15:16
    Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it.

    Proverbs 15:33
    The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.

    Proverbs 16:6
    By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.

    Proverbs 19:23
    The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

    Proverbs 22:4
    The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.

    Proverbs 23:17
    Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the Lord always.

    Isaiah 8:13
    “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.

    Isaiah 8:12-14
    Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.

    Malachi 3:16
    Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.

    Acts 9:31
    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

    2 Corinthians 5:11
    Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

    Colossians 3:22
    Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

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