Study Guide: Diaper Power

Sunday December 23, 2012 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

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.

Extended Summary:

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.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. What in this world frightens you?
  3. When you get scared, what type of power do you usually cling to?
  4. How have you thought of God in terms of the power of this world?
  5. In what ways does the Gospel story show you a different power to cling to?